BEIJING, CHINA — China’s soybean imports are forecast to fall due to reduced feed demand as a result of the African swine fever outbreak that began in August 2018, according to a May 8 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA estimates soybean imports at 84 million tonnes in 2018-19, down from 94 million the previous marketing year. It also forecasts a slight decline in 2019-20 to 83 million tonnes.

“The disease has caused a significant decline in sow and hog inventories, thereby reducing demand for soybean meal for feed,” the USDA said. “This situation is expected to continue through 2019 and into 2020.”

Soybean meal feed use will be an estimated 65.6 million tonnes in 2018-19, down 3.4 million tonnes from 2017-18, according to the USDA. It is projected to drop even further in 2019-20 to 63.6 million tonnes.

Meanwhile, China’s rapeseed imports from Canada are forecast to fall by almost 40% during the second half of 2018-19 compared to the same period the previous year, due to phytosanitary concerns, the USDA said.

In March, China banned two large Canadian rapeseed exporters. Industry leaders said Chinese importers have stopped signing new contracts for Canadian canola products. The USDA said China’s imports of rapeseed from Canada are expected to fall to about 4 million tonnes in 2018-19, down from 4.7 million the previous year.

China, the world’s largest consumer of oilseeds, is engaged in a trade dispute with the United States, traditionally its largest soybean supplier, and consequently has been looking to other suppliers, primarily Brazil, to fill the void.