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Source: USDA APHIS news release

Shipments to China will undergo a new procedure to meet phytosanitary import requirements.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported on new rules for soybean loads heading to China. USDA has also issued a statement to make farmers and shippers aware of what goes into effect Monday, Jan. 1.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is making U.S. soybean farmers and exporters aware of a new procedure to comply with phytosanitary import requirements to China, the U.S. largest customer for soybeans.

The new procedure applies to both bulk and container shipments of raw, unprocessed soybeans to china, and the rules are necessary to "maintain the uninterrupted flow of U.S. soybeans to the United States' largest export market. In the statement, Greg Ibach, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, noted that the agency worked closely with Chinese counterparts and U.S. soybean industry representatives to establish the new procedure.

Earlier this year, China noted that U.S. soybean shipments had too much foreign material in each load - including dirt and weed seeds. Chinese officials said the foreign material exceeded standards, and weed seeds were found that were of quarantine concern.

The new procedure involves APHIS notifying China when a soybean shipment exceeds 1% foreign material by placing an added declaration on the phytosanitary certificate that says: "This consignment exceeds 1% foreign material."

Reuters has reported that this new rule would have impacted more than half the soybeans shipped to China in 2017. If that same level is hit in 2018, observers are concerned that this could slow shipments of soybeans to China.

Assurances and procedures

According to USDA, Chinese officials have "assured the United States that this notification will allow all U.S. soybean exports to China, including those with more than 1% foreign material, to continue without interruption until the United States is able to fully implement a series of science-based measures from farm to export terminal."

The aim of that new approach would be to reduce the volume of foreign material and weeds seeds in soybean shipments to China. Randy Gordon, president and chief executive officer of the National Grain and Feed Association, commented that his group looks "forward to working with APHIS and other stakeholders in the U.S. soybean value chain to develop the components of the systems approach, including weed seed control best practices to be implemented on-farm, starting with the 2018 soybean growing season."

What might this mean for farmers? That remains to be seen.

Jim Sutter, CEO, U.S. Soybean Export Council noted that his group will work with partner organizations to promote effective implementation of the systems approach throughout the U.S. soybean supply chain, including ongoing efforts by USSEC to "promote the development of timely, science-based technologies that U.S. farmers need to produce the best quality product possible. We are confident that this agreement will allow U.S. farmers and exporters to continue to service the important Chinese market without interruption."

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