context: Efforts to diversify sources of soybeans and other oilseeds (which favoured belt and road countries) were evident over the past year. In the long term, however, policymakers are keen to ensure a reasonable portion of domestic soybean demand can be satisfied by farmers at home. Trade negotiations with the US are ongoing and this document (and subsidies mentioned therein) may be adjusted based on outcomes in coming weeks.

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) has circulated a draft ‘Soybean revitalisation implementation plan’ for comment, calling for increased soybean production and higher subsidies for soybean farmers, according to multiple sources. Some coverage has included a scan of the draft, which has been circulated within the industry but is not yet published in full.

Reports suggest the Plan includes the following goals

  • increasing soybean planting area by 10 million mu in 2019; planting area to reach 140 million mu by 2020 and 150 million mu by 2022
  • additional soybean acreage to come from
    • adjusting rice and corn planting structures
    • improving financial returns for soybean cultivation relative to other grains
  • optimising subsidy policies
    • detailed subsidy plans for soybean farmers in the northeast will be published around spring festival

Customs data shows China imported 88.03 million tonnes soybean in 2018, down 7.51 million tonnes or 7.9 percent y-o-y. Still, these levels remain near historical record highs. Increasing domestic soybean price advantage through subsidies and simplifying sales channels are the two keys to incentivising farmers and ensuring ‘soybean revitalisation’, says the piece.