CARD Economists Take a First-Hand Look at Brazilian Agriculture

Brazil's emergence as a commodity-producing powerhouse has kept U.S. economists, trade representatives, and policymakers interested in learning more about the country's infrastructure, production capacity, and growing capital investment in agriculture. In September 2003, economists with the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University traveled to Brazil to get a first-hand impression of its agricultural sector-particularly of its future potential in crop production. In a briefing paper summarizing the fact-finding trip, the researchers say that Brazil's future expansion of production and exports is almost certain. However, other social, economic, and political pressures may cause Brazilian policymakers to reassess the large-scale, low-cost model embraced in the Center-West region of the country. The authors write, "We observed factors within Brazil itself that have potential for creating tensions which may ultimately force politicians to consider reforms that reduce production efficiency to achieve other social and environmental objectives." Some of those tensions include pressures to support small farmers and rural economies, lobbies against deforestation and environmental degradation, and the agrarian reform movement to benefit the landless poor. The briefing paper, titled "Brazil: The Future of Modern Agriculture?" was published by the Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center and is available at Contact Frank Fuller, (515) 294-2364, Jay Fabiosa, (515) 294-6183, or Sandy Clarke, (515) 294-6257.

(Released May 2004)