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Alarm bells ringing over soybean rust

(Monday, April 28, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Soybean rust, a disease that can take out 80 percent of a field, has U.S. officials concerned. The Soybean Producers of America first raised the possibility of the disease entering the country in Brazilian bean imports in an April 15 news release (see below). Their concern was validated by Michael McNeill, a U.S. soybean researcher, who told Reuters: "It is possible for soybean rust to be introduced into the U.S. through shipments of whole soybeans from South America."

The larger American Soybean Association, normally a vociferous advocate of free trade, called on the USDA to bar soybean imports from South America if that's what it takes to prevent the disease from infecting the 72 million acres of U.S. soybean fields and costing farmers $7.2 billion, which is about half the value of the U.S.soybean crop.

Although the diesease was present in 30 percent of Brazil's soybean area last year, according to the USDA, Brazil still expects strong exports. According to a report in Promedmail.org: "Higher than expected soybean yields in south Brazil due to favorable weather compensate for losses caused by Asian rust disease in the center-west and northeast, industry sources said on Thursday.

"In Parana state, Brazil's [second largest] soybean producer, yields are expected to rise to 3050 kg per hectare, from 2800 kg/ha in 2002, said Vera Zardo, chief agronomist at the Parana State Rural Economy Department (Deral). Parana's soybean output is expected to rise to 10.8 million tonnes, from 9.4 million tonnes in 2001/02, due to a 9 per cent increase in area to 3.56 million hectares, Ocepar said."


Soybean Producers of America news release, 04/15/03: http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=1589