28 February 2010

Summary of Days 4, 5 and 6

Last Friday when we had met with the various departments involved with the Brazilian Government and were preparing for our day with Governor Maggi and Colonel Maia as well as the Environmental Secretary Luis Henrique. We also had a chance to visit Amaggi Enterprises before taking a bus to Lucas do Rio Verde via BR 163. It makes our Interstate 74 look like a super highway that is absolutely no potholes and is perfectly smooth. The ride was long and tiring but the view was amazing. From the mountains and forest to soybeans and pastures it is an incredible site to see. Saturday we met with Luciane Copetti who is the local Secretary for Agriculture and Environment before heading to Fiagril which is the biodiesel mill. We met with Paulo Franz who is the owner/operator of Mano Julio farms. They are a large pork and poultry operation that hasn’t seen a negative years in all fifteen years of operation. After our long bus ride back to Cuiaba (kwee-a-bah) we had dinner with Colonel Maia at restaurant that is very similar to a Brazilian steakhouse.. only with fish. Yesterday was a travel day and today we’re headed for Piracicaba for more briefings and meetings.

On a side note – we’re headed to Buenos Aries on Wednesday. It will be interesting they registered a 6.6 earth quake following the 8.8 earthquake in Chile. There has been reports that southern Brazil and parts of Argentina felt the Chilean earthquake but when we were in Mato Grosso we did not.

We have five more days left in our South American adventure with part of the 2010 Illinois Ag Leadership Program.

Day One and Two - Feb 23 and 24

Today we are in Cuiaba, Brazil (KWEE-A-BAH). Yesterday was a morning filled with meetings and briefings with the Agricultural Ministry, the Environment and Renewables and the National Bureau of Infrastructure Support (DNIT) before hopping on a plane from Brasilia to Cuiaba. Here’s a quick overview of Brazilian Agriculture thus far. The investment in tropical agriculture technology allowed the expansion toward the center and the west of the country. Brazilians spend a lot of time and money researching how to use resources to be able to extend the soil in the tropical and subtropical climates. We’ve talked before about Brazil’s lack of infrastructure… So they utilize the central areas to ease their export. When you look at Land Use – Agriculture makes up 31.3% of it. With 20.2% Pastures, 6.8% annual crops, 1.7% permanent crops and 2.5% planted forest. The folks with the Agricultural Department were quick to point out Brazilian Agriculture doesn’t rely on public support.. However their business is run on 33% personal investment, 33% rural credit and 33% government loans that are to be paid back within a year.

Yesterday we also learned about EMBRAPA which is similar to our USDA ARS. They were established in 1973 and employ 8.400. Of that 8,400: 2,210 are scientist… 1,650 are PhD’s and they operate on a $650 million budget. That also includes 39 research centers and two labs abroad.

They said their goals are to:
1) Increase rural credit
2) Support commercialization
3) Enhance rural
4) Strengthening the middle size grower
5) Strengthing the cooperatives
6) Encourage the sustainable development of ag and recovery of grasslands.

The Brazilian environmental law is extensive.. For example to take care of the forests, every railroad property is required to keep up the natual habitat. When farmer purchased ground in 60’s they were able to clear and farm 80% of the ground and keep 20% in its natural state. However in today’s times.. They keep 80% of the ground in its natural state and are allowed to farm 20%. If producers don’t follow these regulations they are often times confronted with military enforcement and sentenced to jail time or ordered to pay fines.

Infrastructure is a hot topic from the United States all the way to Brazil. The main purpose of DNIT is to take care of the highways and railways and waterways. BR163 is the main highway to go to other states and other countries. They budget roughly $3.5B Real for infrastructure with 30% of that going to new projects.

There is a ton of information and this just scratches the surface. We’re headed to meet with the Assistant Governor and the Enviromenmental Secretary before heading to Lucas do Rio Verde tomorrow afternoon.

23 February 2010

Let's take this show...

On the road. Which is exactly what we plan to do over the next two weeks. I'm headed to Brazil and Argentina with the Illinois Ag Leadership Program.

Our plane departs at 9pm tonight from Chicago. I am hoping to write and post pictures nearly every day so make sure you check back for updates. I will be working a little bit while we're traveling so major thank yous to Christina Wilkinson, Ryan Voorhees, Keith Worner, Courtney Lynne and Mike Sabol who are all helping out while I'm gone.

I return midday on the 7th of March. I can't wait to see all the fun and exciting things South America has to offer.

I am very sad to be missing Commodities Classic this year - so everyone will have to keep me posted as to what is going on in Anaheim! I will miss all of you terribly!

...Until next time.

15 February 2010

We're Goin High Tech

Yep... You guessed it... The website for our ag programming is getting an industrial sized make over. It's taken a lot of time and research (and a really tolerant web designer) to make all of this happen. A gentleman by the name of Jonathan Weiss who owns Northbound Designs has been awesome to work with.

I'm someone that isn't really "website savvy" and Jonathan has been awesome. He answers my questions... Stupid or not stupid and is what seems to be effortlessly putting together a fun new website that will be of great use for everyone.

I think we'll have it up and going by the time I leave for Brazil so we'll be able to update the photos and stories while we are away. I just wanted to pass along my fun and exciting news for the day.

Other than that we're trying to prepare for my upcoming two week travel to Brazil and Argentina with the Illinois Ag Leadership Program and patiently waiting for Spring to move in so we can start our Bayer CropScience Spring Planting Tour. We have a lot of great things planned for you this Spring... So keep checking back.. and make sure to scope out the new website when it goes live. I'm certain you'll like it!

I hope you had a pleasant Valentine's Day and are enjoying the President's Day holiday. Grain markets are closed today for the holiday and will reopen for the overnight trading session.

Until next time....