Thursday, March 22, 2018

Trade Uncertainty

Agriculture trade is very important to countries around the globe. There are many things that can impact trade including countries imposing tariffs and quotas. This week there has been a lot of talk about tariffs being placed on products between China and the United States. The attached article gives a brief summary and includes a video explaining the current situation between China and the United States. We encourage you to watch the video, read the article, and utilize the discussion points below to guide conversations around the globe?

Tariffs for China and U.S. Goods

Discussion Points

  • Explain what a tariff is. If you need to do additional research that is fine.
  • Why is the U.S. considering tariffs on China? Why is China considering tariffs on the U.S.?
  • What is the potential impact to agriculture in the two countries (markets, supply, etc.)?
  • How might this "trade war" impact your home country? Your home state?
  • How might this situation impact countries around the world besides China and the United States?
Discussion tip: Note that the discussion points above do not include any political figures or parties. Try to keep the discussion to trade policy and agriculture markets.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Field to Flight

We will soon be in the air  on our way back to the USA. We have arrived at the Brasilia airport and are awaiting boarding. We started off our day at the Ceres Agrobusiness Field Day. We were able to visit with seed, fertilizer, and chemical companies about production practices in Brazil. One of the most intriguing sessions was a company creating fertilizers from ocean products, such as red algae. GALC was even highlighted by the local media with a video interview.

Following our time at the field day we packed up at the hotel and began our trek back to Brasilia. We have three flights ahead of us before returning to Waterloo Sunday afternoon. We’ve all had a spectacular time in Brazil, but look forward to seeing family and friends as we return to Iowa!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Agriculture and River Run

Today was our last full day in Brazil before we fly home tomorrow evening and return to Iowa on Sunday. We kicked off our day with a visit to a cotton processing facility. It is a family owned operation which grows and processes cotton so it can be shipped to clothing and material manufacturers in Brazil and around the world. We discussed the process from when it leaves the field to when it is shipped to manufacturers for production. After we learned about grading and all that goes into cotton production we made our ways to the fields. We visited a cotton field that was planted in December and will be harvested in late May/early June. There was much discussion on production practices. Many were blown away be the intensive management of cotton which includes 26 passes of pesticides and 4 passes of fertilizers.

We enjoyed a traditional Brazilian lunch once again, which is a buffet style lunch with many options. Following lunch we visited Caramuru, a plant that processes soybeans and corn into many different products from corn meal to vegetable oil. The plant specializes in non-GMO soybean processing and sends a lot of that product to the Netherlands and Europe. The corn they work with is all GMO corn. They stated the premium for non-GMO soybeans is great and the reason for their procedures.

Following our hot day of touring we cooled off with boating and swimming in the river that separates the states of Goias and Minas Gerais. This was a relaxing way to end the day before wnjoying a spectacular dinner with even better friends in Brazil! Tomorrow we will attend a field day in the morning before making our trek back home. There may not be another blog post until next week with two busy travel days ahead.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Such a Sweet Day

Today was truly a sweet day. We spent the morning exploring sugarcane production and processing. We started our day in the fields where we had great discussions on production practices and were able to experience harvest. The gentleman that managed the sugarcane field that we visited has 37,500 acres of sugarcane. It was clear he was very innovative in his production practices. After harvest he has crews come in to analyze post harvest loss, stem lengths, and more to improve yields. The specific field we were in was on it’s 11th year of production. Most fields can go 6 or 7 years with the same sugarcane before it sees yield loss, but this field has been in production for 11 years with no drop in production due to soil nutrition and health management.

From the fields we made our way to a small, family owned sugarcane processing plant that produces sugar for consumption and ethanol. It was incredible to see all that goes into processing sugarcane to a finished product. Many were amazed by the amount of chemistry and steps to produce sugar and ethanol. We were even able to sample some of the finished sugar towards the end of the tour.

After we enjoyed lunch at a Churrascaria (meat feast), we made our way to a seed corn Pioneer production plant. We were able to discuss operations at the plant and tour the facilities. We had the opportunity to compare and contrast processes in the USA and Brazil. Much was the same, but there were several differences that led to engaging conversations. Many enjoyed some relief from the heat in the cold storage at the plant.

We ended our evening with a dinner where many enjoyed a monster of a burger and conversations with great friends from Brazil. We look forward to tomorrow which will be our final full day in Brazil.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Fun in the Sun

Wednesday we took a break from exploring agriculture to relax and have some fun. We spent the day at a hot spring water park. The water throughout the park is naturally heated by a dormant volcano. We had some thrill seekers who took their turns on the half pipe and piranha water slide while others opted for the lazy river and wave pool. No matter what direction you went you were sure to have an enjoyable day.

As our day concluded we loaded up the van and made our 1.5 hour trek to Intumbiara, where we will dive into agriculture once again. We closed out our evening at a pizzeria with Brazilian friends with Ceres Agrobusiness who have traveled to Iowa in the past to learn about agriculture.

A Day of Dairy, Corn, and Soybeans

Today was a spectacular day of exploring agriculture in Brazil. We started off our day visiting the Piracanjuba dairy training center. Piracanjuba is a dairy company that produces and sells milk, cheese, and other dairy products. This center provides training for employees of dairy farms selling milk to Piracanjuba and also sends advisors out to farms to improve production. Students enjoyed comparing production practices in the USA to Brazil. One of the surprising challenges that Brazil is working to address is their high somatic cell count.

After lunch we visited a soybean and corn farm. The most common production practice is soybeans as a first crop followed by corn as a second crop. With irrigation they are starting to produce tomatoes, sweet corn, or edible beans as a third crop. This year they are going to follow the second crop with an African grass grazed with beef cattle in half of their fields. The grass helps reduce compaction in the fields. We were able to see harvest (soybeans) and planting (corn) within the same field in the same day. To end our time at the farm we visited second season corn crop that was 120 day maturity that was 7-8 feet tall after just 52 days of production.  It was an eye opening experience for all once again comparing production between our two countries.

We ended the evening at the hot springs pool at our hotel in Caldas Novas. We enjoyed an evening of conversation and reflection on the day at the pool and enjoyed dinner poolside. Unfortunately, our WiFi has not worked the best which is the reason for this late post. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Agriculture Diversification in Brazil

We had an awesome day of learning on Monday! We jumped right in with a visit to Embrapa. Embrapa is a governmental research agency that is all across Brazil. This specific location specializes in rice and edible beans, but is becoming more diversified in it’s research with cotton, maize, soybean, beef cattle, and dairy cattle. We started our day with an overview of Embrapa before moving to their gene bank, which stores around 47,000 different varieties of rice and beans. We enjoyed visiting their greenhouses where they were raising rice and beans for the bank as well as a visit to a cotton research area. As we finished our morning at Embrapa we traveled with them to their nearby feedlot to learn about beef cattle production. Nellore is the breed of cattle that are popular in Brazil as they are breed to tolerate the heat.

For lunch we made our way to the UFG campus where classes will be starting Tuesday. Following lunch we toured the agriculture campus and made a stop in to the coffee lab where we learned more about roasting coffee beans and sampled some fresh product. Any visit to UFG is not complete until you find the monkeys roaming central campus and today certainly did not disappoint.

Late afternoon we traveled to Fazenda Organica Novas Senhora Aparecida. This is an organic farm that produces a variety of crops including: corn, soybeans, peanuts, bananas, papayas, coffee, etc. The farmer is very innovative in his production techniques and puts an emphasis on education opening his farm to other producers and university students. Along with his crop production he also has a wildlife rehabilitation center that works with all animals except pumas and snakes. We were able to visit some of the blue macaws he was working with.

We rounded out the day with a great steak dinner and enjoying the weather poolside before preparing to head onto Caldas Novas tomorrow. There is no doubt there is major diversification of agriculture in Brazil and we will continue our exploration with a visit to a dairy and a corn/soybean farm on Tuesday!