The following information was prepared by members of the Wheat, Feed Grains, Rice, and Oilseeds Interagency Commodity Estimates Committees, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and presented at the Agricultural Outlook Forum held in Washington, D.C., last week.

Soybean supplies for 2012/13 are projected at 3,540 million bushels, up 8 percent from 2011/12 as both beginning stocks and production are expected to be larger.

Soybean production is projected 6 percent higher at 3,250 million bushels due to increased harvested area and yield.

Soybean plantings are projected unchanged from 2011 at 75 million acres.

Soybean prices are below levels seen last spring, and relatively higher expected net returns for corn are expected to leave little incentive for increased soybean plantings in 2012.

However, harvested area is expected to increase as abandonment is assumed to return to a more normal rate in several states that were affected by adverse weather in 2011.

Assuming normal weather conditions for the 2012/13 crop, the national average soybean yield is projected at 43.9 bushels per acre, up 2.4 bushel from the weather-depressed 2011 yield.

The 2012/13 yield projection is based on a U.S. trend yield from 1989 to 2010. If realized, this year’s projected yield would be the second highest after the record of 44 bushels per acre in 2009.

Soybean domestic use is projected at 1,785 million bushels, up 3 percent from 2011/12. Crush is projected to increase 45 million bushels to 1,660 million supported by improved soybean meal exports and a slight increase in domestic demand.

Soybean meal exports are projected slightly higher supported by reduced competition from India.

Projected gains in domestic soybean meal feeding are less than 1 percent due to limited expansion in the pork and poultry sectors in 2012. Soybean meal prices for 2012/13 are projected to average $295 per short ton, down $10 from the mid-point of the projected range for 2011/12.

U.S. domestic disappearance of soybean oil is expected to increase 2 percent to 18.0 billion pounds in 2012/13, supported by a higher biodiesel use mandate for 2012.

Soybean oil used in U.S. biodiesel production is projected at 3.8 billion pounds, up 200 million from 2011/12. At this level, soybean oil is assumed to account for about half of expected U.S. biodiesel production from all fats and oils.