It’s been a whirlwind so far! With a little jet lag, a flight delay, and a late (but tasty) dinner last night this morning came really early. We started off by checking out of our hotel, loading the bus, and arriving at the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture for an overview of agriculture in Brazil. It’s similar to our USDA.
In the 50s and 60s agriculture began to spread across the country as a way to spread population and advance technology in the different regions of Brazil. They used the best resources they had, and today Brazil has a very successful Agriculture industry. Our speakers touched on land use, expansion, percentage of harvested grains, biomes of Brazil, double cropping, harvested area growth, meat production, milk production, coffee, sugar, ethanol, gross value of production, exports, subsidies, ag policy, their problems and challenges, and their goals set in their current agriculture plan. Obviously, we learned a lot!
Some interesting facts we took away…
- Mato Grosso is most important for grain production—the area was chosen for infrastructure and export reasons
- The Amazon makes up 49.3% of land
- 20.2% of ag land is used for pastures
- 35% of crops are double cropped
- 42% of grains harvested are soybeans
- Even though area used for coffee is down, coffee production is up
- Gross ag products value of production is $170 billion (beef makes up 21% of that)
- Total exports make up $64.8 billion (29.3% of exports go to Europe)
- Rural credit comes from private companies
- 60% of crop is transported by road
And this is just to name a few!
We also heard from EMBRAPA, an organization similar to our USDA’s Agriculture Research Service. We have previously heard from them at the January seminar. They have 39 research centers and connections all throughout the world.
Next, we loaded the bus and traveled to the Brazilian Institute on Environment and Renewables (IBAMA) to hear from Vitor Carlos Kaniak, Chief Cabinet. IBAMA is similar to our Environmental Protection Agency. Brazil has very complex and specific laws for the Amazon forest and other protected areas. The Amazon is currently being monitored via satellite. Japan’s new satellite technology has made it possible to see through the clouds that hover over the forest. A major challenge they are currently facing is registering properties. Most people don’t want to be registered with the government. Illegal deforestation is also a major problem. If caught, the state, army and FBI all attend the arrest. People are charged with either high fines or prison time. Their budget is $80 million a year.
From there we went to the National Bureau of Infrastructure Support (DNIT). This is similar to our Department of Transportation. Miguel deSauza, the Director of Planning of Visas, did his best to cover issues regarding the railroad, highways and waterways. It helped the interpreter and computer tech guy were also knowledgeable.
We then flew to Cuiaba, where we met up with Ricardo Silva. Ricardo is a 50 year old farmer. He grew up in southern Brazil and now farms in Mato Grosso with his brother. He was very knowledgeable about the area and shared several facts with us on our way to the hotel. Peter Goldsmith then met us at the hotel. A few of us were happy because he also escorted us to the ATM, and we were finally able to get Reais (Brazilian currency)! Later that night we had dinner with several leaders from agricultural associations. These associations were similar to our Illinois Soybean Association and Illinois Beef Association. Several farmers joined us as well. They shared two informative videos, facts on the area, and personal stories and passion of their professions.