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USDA rolls out new phytosanitary rule for soybean experts to China


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The USDA announced a new procedure for soybean growers and exporters late last month regarding China’s phytosanitary import requirements that agency officials said would ensure the continued export of U.S. soybeans, valued at $14.4 billion annually.

The new procedure, which had gone into effect Jan. 1, applies to both bulk and container shipments of raw, unprocessed soybeans to China.

“Working closely with our Chinese counterparts and U.S. soybean industry representatives, our top priority was to establish a new procedure that would address China’s phytosanitary concerns and keep U.S. soybeans moving without delay through China’s ports of entry,” said Greg Ibach, USDA under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs.

Last September, Chinese officials notified the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of foreign material exceeding Chinese standards, as well as weed seeds of quarantine concern in U.S. soybean shipments.

“We worked closely with our partners in China’s general administration of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine on a practical solution that addresses their concerns, and provides for the uninterrupted flow of U.S. soybeans for our soybean producers and exporters,” said Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator of APHIS’ plant protection and quarantine program.

According to the USDA, the new procedure involves APHIS notifying China when a soybean shipment exceeds 1 percent foreign material, by placing an additional declaration on the phytosanitary certificate that reads: “This consignment exceeds 1 percent foreign material.”

The USDA said Chinese officials have assured the United States this notification will allow all U.S. soybean exports to China. The agency added this will ensure the continued flow of soybeans until the United States is able to fully implement a series of science-based measures from farm to export terminal – or a systems approach – during the 2018 crop year, and reduce the volume of foreign material and weed seeds in soybean shipments.

“We look forward to working with the 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,” said Randy Gordon, president and CEO of the National Grain and Feed Assoc.

In fact, for on-the-farm compliance to the new procedure, the USDA said APHIS is working with federal, state and university experts to develop specific recommendations based on weed seed control best practices. These will include production and harvesting measures designed to reduce weed seed contamination at the farm level. APHIS will then provide these recommendations to soybean producers before the 2018 growing season begins.

Moreover, at export time, the USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) will sample China-bound soybean shipments and analyze foreign material to monitor for weed seeds in bulk and container shipments. Once FGIS determines a consignment exceeds 1 percent foreign material, APHIS will include the additional declaration on the phytosanitary certificate.

Upon arrival in China, the country’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) agrees to expedite agricultural clearance of shipments with 1 percent or less foreign material. The USDA said Chinese officials will then determine whether any phytosanitary measures, including inspection, cleaning, treatment or other protective actions, may be appropriate to mitigate pest risk in shipments with more than 1 percent.

In addition, AQSIQ will not hold or unnecessarily delay incoming shipments based solely on the volume of foreign material. The USDA and AQSIQ will evaluate the effectiveness of the systems approach in December 2019, with a midpoint assessment this December.

The USDA said it will work with federal and state agencies that facilitate U.S. grain exports, extension and affected industry stakeholder groups to create broad awareness about the systems approach, with interested stakeholders being able to subscribe to APHIS’ Stakeholder Registry for the latest updates.

“Over the coming months and years, the USSEC (U.S. Soybean Export Council) will work together with partner organizations to promote effective implementation of the systems approach throughout the U.S. soybean supply chain, including ongoing efforts by our organization to promote the development of timely, science-based technologies that U.S. farmers need to produce the best quality product possible,” said Jim Sutter, USSEC CEO.

“We are confident that this agreement will allow U.S. soybean farmers and exporters to continue to service the important Chinese market without interruption.”