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SAO PAULO, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Brazil's vegetable oil association Abiove stood by its more modest forecast for a 2014-15 soybean crop of 91 million tonnes on Tuesday, after the Brazilian government hiked its estimate to 95.8 million tonnes last week.
"Productivity in Mato Grosso is going to be a little below average this year," Abiove's General Secretary Fabio Trigueirinho told journalists, citing planting delays in the country's top growing state due to dry weather in October and November.
"At this time we are comfortable with 91 million tonnes," he said of the forecast, which would still be a record crop for Brazil.
Abiove has maintained its forecast since September. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects a 94-million-tonne Brazilian soy crop, which is seen contributing to large global stocks.
Abiove expects Brazil to export 48 million tonnes of soybeans this season, up 4 percent from a year ago. Trigueirinho said some improvements had been made at Brazil's main shipping port of Santos, frequently a scene of chaos during soy season.
A new shipping route through the northern state of Para would also help handle the increased volume, Trigueirinho said.
Abiove represents the largest soybean traders in Brazil, including Archer Daniels Midland Co, Cargill Inc , Bunge Ltd and Louis Dreyfus Corp.
Soy buyers are working with authorities in Para state, which includes large swathes of Amazon rainforest, to address environmental concerns over a likely expansion of farming there as new export terminals open in coming years.
In a potential challenge to the sale of soybeans in 2015, Abiove's President Carlo Lovatelli said the association's members are still negotiating with seed giant Monsanto on collecting royalties from farmers.
Abiove and Monsanto agreed on a basic framework that alleviated legal concerns for the trading firms, Lovatelli said, confirming a Reuters story from October.
He also said Abiove had calculated a base fee the firms would accept from Monsanto in exchange for making sure farmers who plant the company's new Intacta RR2 Pro genetically modified soy had paid for the technology. Trading firms must now work out individual payments with Monsanto.
"As of yesterday not one (Abiove) company had sealed an agreement," Lovatelli said.
U.S.-based Monsanto says hundreds of trading firms have already agreed to police royalty payments in Brazil. Abiove says its members represent 80 percent of buyers.
Though the dispute is tense, Lovatelli said he was confident it would eventually be resolved. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Alan Crosby)