On January 1, the first day of the new fiscal year, soybeans were selling for around US$2 per bushel in the US.
That compares with around US10 per bushell in 2015 and US20 per busock in 2015, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
This is not bad news, but the US is the world’s biggest soybean exporter.
In 2015, US soybean exports were valued at around US3.6 billion, and it is likely that 2016 will be a very good year for soybean export earnings.
But the trend is bad news for US soybeans, especially those grown in the Midwest and Central Plains.
Soybeans grown in those areas are not grown in a productive manner and, as the US agriculture department points out, are susceptible to drought.
And soybean farmers in the region are increasingly reliant on fertilizer that can have a big impact on soybean yields, particularly when it comes to water use.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty around whether or not we’re going to have any more drought,” said Michael Estrada, executive director of the Midwest Soybean Association, in an interview with Reuters.
“If we have more water in the soil, it’s going to be more difficult to get more production out of it.”
Estrada said that he expected the US soy production to decline in 2016 and that it could drop as much as 30 percent.
In addition to the difficulties in the growing season, farmers in North Dakota and Nebraska have been battling high water use in their fields, leading to severe water restrictions.
Estradas prediction for 2016 is that US soy acreage will drop by 15 percent to 20 percent, and there will be fewer soybean acreages in the central plains than in the past, and perhaps less in the Midwestern United States.
And Estradas predictions are even more dire for soybeans in South America.
The region accounts for about 75 percent of global soybean production, but is also one of the main producers of soybeans exported to Europe and Japan.
According to the Soybean Council, there will likely be no soybean crop to sell in 2016 in South Africa and other South African countries.
The main drivers of soybean prices, according the US department of agriculture, are a lack of storage space, poor yields and poor management.
And that is especially true in the Central Plains, Estrados prediction points out.
The problem in the soybean industry is that it has been trying to grow its business in a way that will make it profitable, he said.
The soybean sector is now in its fourth decade, so it’s hard to predict how it’s doing.
And it’s not even clear what it is going to look like when the next generation of soy farmers comes along, EStradas predicted.
This is a developing story.
Please check back for updates.
Follow Reuters Health on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
Follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Twitter at @CDCgov, or sign up for its daily newsletter at www.cdc.gov/health/newsletters/cdc-newsletter.