In 2016, China put in place a new grain import law to keep invasive weeds and other plant pests from entering their country. In 2017, they informed USDA that U.S. grain shipments, particularly soybeans, did not comply with the new law. They specifically cited increased detections of weed seeds. These weed seeds threaten U.S. access to China’s soybean market.
Soybeans are critical to the U.S. economy. Approximately 1 of every 3 bushels of U.S. soybean are shipped to China, making it the United States’ largest market for this commodity. In 2017, this export was valued at $12.4 billion, which is approximately 91% by value of all U.S. grains shipped to China.
The systems approach is a suite of recommended best practices that can help reduce weed seeds in soybeans on farm, at U.S. grain elevators, and at the point of export. APHIS worked with U.S. industry groups, other USDA agencies, and academia to develop the approach, which includes recommendations for integrated weed management, harvesting, and handling. It also includes USDA and industry monitoring of foreign material and weed seed content in soybeans at grain and export elevators. APHIS and China’s national plant protection organization will evaluate the effectiveness of the systems approach in 2 years.
The systems approach is voluntary. APHIS encourages producers, handlers, and exporters to consider using those best practices that are appropriate for their geographic area and their farm or business operation.
In 2017, China reported detecting 36 different species of weed seeds in U.S. soybean shipments. Nearly 80 percent of those weed seeds came from 4 common weeds: ragweed, cocklebur, Johnsongrass, and pigweed. The complete list includes:
Producers, handlers, and exporters can take specific actions, based on their role in the supply chain, to reduce weed seeds in U.S. soybean exports. The systems approach provides a suite of recommended best practices for use on farm, at grain elevators, and at the point of export. Everyone along the supply chain is encouraged to consider and use those best practices that are appropriate for their geographic area and their farm or business operation.
Other countries are already taking steps to reduce weeds seeds in their soybeans. Your participation in the systems approach will not only ensure that U.S. soybeans continue to meet China’s import requirements, it will also enhance their value, making them even more competitive in the global marketplace.
Systems Approach Infographic
|Systems Approach Presentation