Live

Watch CBSN Live

Soybean Problem Piling Up

In America's heartland, CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports, soybeans have become a sea of trouble.

They've flooded the market, sending the price plummeting to a 23-year low. According to soybean farmer Scott Fritz, "We're talking prices that have just fallen off the table."

Most of last year's crop is still sitting in grain elevators. It's taking up room that will soon be needed for this year's record harvest of an additional 74 million acres of soybeans.

So why would North Carolina - the largest meat-producing state in the U.S. - feed its livestock soybeans from Brazil instead? Livestock producer Jim Kissner says feed is being imported because, "We have no choice but to do this. We have to do what we have to do, it's strictly business, that's all."

"No choice" because it's cheaper. Livestock farmers say it's too expensive to transport soybeans out of the Midwest. So they've decided to shop elsewhere, importing 75 tons of a crop that's already bursting U.S. silos at the seams, and putting tradition allies at each other's throats in he process.

Fritz says the sale could have been brought in as much as $16 million for soybean farmers in the US - a boost desperately needed during such hard times. "I'm in the biggest struggle that I've had in terms of making money on this farm,"he says.

But livestock farmers say they don't have it much better. "The pork prices and the turkey prices and the chicken prices are the lowest they've been in a long time too," Kissner notes. "I mean, all we're trying to do is make a living."

To do that, another shipment from abroad will arrive in port this month. Unlike the sea of soybeans that's already drowning American farmers, it won't just sit there.