Soybean Production, Marketing Costs, and Export Competitiveness in Brazil and the United States

Soybeans and their products—soybean meal and soybean oil—are the most traded agricultural commodity, accounting for nearly 9 percent of the total value of global agricultural trade.

A new report  from USDA’s Economic Research Service, Soybean Production, Marketing Costs, and Export Competitiveness in Brazil and the United States describes the factors that affect production, marketing costs, and export competitiveness of the world’s leading soybean exporters—the United States and Brazil. This study compares the differences between farm-level production costs and returns for soybeans in the United States and Brazil in Marketing Year (MY) 2017/18–2021/22 for the most productive growing regions in each country.

Here are a few key findings from the report:

  • Costs of production differed between the United States and Brazil, partially reflecting Brazil’s greater reliance on custom services to provide equipment and labor for crop field operations as opposed to farm ownership of machinery in the United States. Land costs were also higher in the United States. Overall, allocated overhead costs were lower in Brazil than in the United States.
  • Average national returns per bushel above operating costs for soybeans were highest for the United States in 2021/22—16.4 percent above Brazil’s returns.
  • The U.S. Heartland was the lowest-cost exporter of soybeans. Paraná in Brazil was the next lowest-cost exporter, primarily due to its location close to a port and low internal transport costs. The Brazilian State of Mato Grosso is competitive with the United States in the export of soybeans despite higher inland transport costs due to lower soybean costs of production.
  • Overland transportation improvements in Central Brazil to provide access to the northern ports lowered truck rates, resulting in cost savings of $28 per metric ton, further improving Brazil’s Mato Grosso’s competitive position.

For more information, please refer to the full report.