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Costs and Benefits of Cleaning U.S. Soybeans: Overview and Implications

by William Lin

Agricultural Economic Report No. (AER-736) 35 pp, September 1996

Cleaning is not the solution to the soybean cleanliness issue. The costs of additional cleaning of all export soybeans to remove foreign material (FM) beyond the current level would, at minimum, exceed the domestic and international benefits by $20 million per year even if cleaning occurs at the least net-cost locations—river elevators and inland subterminals. Producers and handlers in the South would bear a disproportionate share of the net costs because of higher soybean FM level and larger export share of soybean production than the Corn Belt. Lowering soybean FM by altering production and harvesting practices offers an alternative to mechanical cleaning (a small percentage of producers can do so at little additional cash cost), but its cost-effectiveness needs to be evaluated more fully before adoption. Despite foreign buyers' preference for clean soybeans, foreign material is regarded as less critical than protein, oil, and moisture contents.

Keywords: Soybeans, foreign material (FM), cleaning, quality, costs, benefits, policy options

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Last updated: Tuesday, June 23, 2015

For more information contact: William Lin