By Joanna Newman

THE US soya bean market has enjoyed another strong week.

The Chicago May futures contract settled on Wednesday (24 March) at 487.75¢/bushel, up from about 480¢ a week ago.

Prices have rallied from around 465¢/bushel at the start of the month after months of sharp decline.

Sentiment has improved on the back of renewed talk of export donations by the US government to Russia.

It transpires that these shipments could include soya oil and soya meal as well as beans.

Soya bean prices have also been bolstered by strength in maize and to a lesser extent wheat prices in the US.

Meanwhile there are bullish rumours of changes to the federal conservation programme to encourage farmers to set aside more acres for environmental recovery.

Producers are expected to plant increased soya bean acreage this spring due to distortions in the governments Loan Deficiency Payment (LDP) subsidies which favour soya beans over wheat or maize.

But an increase in conservation set-aside acres would help offset this trend and alleviate oversupply.

The South American soya bean harvest is now underway.

Thanks to favourable weather, Argentina is expected to harvest 18.0-18.5 million tonnes of soya beans this spring according to the latest official estimates, while Brazil is also in line for a large crop.

However, the imminent flood of supply is already largely reflected in US pricing and attention is shifting towards planting conditions in the northern hemisphere.

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