Brazil: The Future of Modern Agriculture?

Holger Matthey, Jacinto F. Fabiosa, Frank H. Fuller
May 2004  [04-MBP 6]

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Matthey, H., J.F. Fabiosa, and F.H. Fuller. 2004. "Brazil: The Future of Modern Agriculture?" MATRIC briefing paper 04-MBP 6. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


In an attempt to understand better Brazil's future role in agricultural markets, the authors of this report traveled to Brazil on a fact-finding mission in September 2003. The goal was to get a first-hand impression of Brazil's agricultural sector and especially its future potential. In this report we provide a general description of crop and livestock production, government policies, public and private cooperation, and transportation and biotechnology issues. The most striking observations made during our time in Brazil was the universal sense of optimism expressed by producers, government officials, agronomists, and market analysts about the future growth of Brazilian agricultural production. Does that mean Brazil, as one person suggested, is the future of modern agriculture? Our answer to that question depends on one's view of the future of global agriculture. Brazilian large-scale, commercially oriented, forward-looking operations are well suited to compete in commodity markets that are constantly driven to increase productivity and reduce costs. On the other hand, 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.

Keywords: agricultural development, agricultural policy, biotechnology, infrastructure, Brazil, production.