The importance of exports is rising for the U.S. soybean sector. Every year since 2007/08 we have exported more than 40 percent of our production, with China as the most important market. U.S. soybean exports increased by about 50 percent from around 1 billion bushels in the middle of the last decade to 1.5 billion last season. However, even with this surge in U.S. exports, our share of world trade has actually declined modestly.
A decade ago we accounted for more than half of world soybean trade, but last year our share was down to 44 percent and this year it will fall to around 36 percent. While U.S. soybean acreage has held basically steady from 2000 to 2011, soybean area in the rest of the world is up by more than 60 percent. The U.S. faces strong competition from production in South America and there is still room for significant growth in production in that region of the world.