Since World War II, the U.S. has been hailed as the world’s breadbasket, pumping grains and meat from its fertile heartland out to the world.But another country is snatching that mantle away: Brazil.
In 2001, Brazilian agricultural exports totaled $16 billion, according to USDA analyst Oliver Flake. By 2010 exports had climbed to a record $62 billion and reached approximately $80 billion in 2011.
That represents an increase of 400 per cent over 10 years. Comparatively, U.S. exports rose about 175 per cent over the same period, Flake says.
What’s their secret?
A place called Mato Grosso.
Brazil is in the top 5 worldwide for most major crops, and is now the fourth-largest grains producer in the world.
Many farms — like this one near the town of Ipiranga do Norte — are carved straight out of the forest.
Mato Grosso farmers have been major beneficiaries of Brazil's explosive growth in arable land — up 26 per cent between 2001 and 2009.
Anyway the satellite views of Mato Grosso are spectacular. Here's some grazing livestock near a town called Sinop.
The government is partially responsible. Brazil's farming growth has been subsidized by the government, to the tune of $64 billion, about six per cent of the country's budget.
But multinationals are also a major presence. Here's a Cargill plant in the southern part of the state.
But that has produced another milestone: Santos, outside Sao Paulo is now the largest port in Latin America.
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