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Agricultural Production in Brazil: Adapting to a Resilient Climate

Over the last 25 years, the American farmer has become increasingly aware of the impact of South American agricultural output on the global supply of grains and oilseeds.  For example, in recent years Brazil has risen to the number one position as an exporter of soybeans.  Further, the combined output of Brazil and its neighbors, Argentina and Paraguay, is challenging the United States’ position as the world’s leading supplier of corn.

Brazil is unique in that it has a relatively stable agricultural output trend due to improving production techniques, and in most years, abundant rainfall for production of various crops.  The climate and cropping patterns are behind the increases in agricultural production, which were made possible by the shift of production into regions less prone to drought.  There is also the potential for expansion into untapped lands, although infrastructure and land ownership issues are a limiting factor.  Meantime, thanks to ample rainfall and land resources enjoyed by producers, Brazil has the potential to become an agricultural powerhouse for years to come.

USDA-Brazil Team Examines Biodegradable Food Packaging

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

A taste of Brazilian culture is presenting a favorable research environment for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemist Atanu Biswas, who just returned from one of three trips he will be taking to Fortaleza, Brazil.

Biswas was awarded the “Science without Borders” fellowship, sponsored by the Brazilian government’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), to lead a collaborative research team investigating new food packaging based on natural biodegradable plastics. He is the first ARS scientist selected to participate in the competitive program.

Career, Adventure Await Candidates for New APHIS Foreign Service Training Program

When Dr. Conrad Estrada became an APHIS Foreign Service Officer (FSO), his goal was to get out of his comfort zone, “not only in the geographic sense, but also on a personal and professional level.”

Six years later, the veterinarian admits he got both wishes. Trained in Peru, Estrada earned his master’s degree in preventive veterinary medicine at the University of California-Davis before joining the APHIS Foreign Service in 2009.  He is now the APHIS Foreign Service (FS) area director in Brasilia, Brazil, a job that “has offered me a great opportunity to expand my horizons, as well as increase my understanding of an integrated agricultural global market.”

Strengthening Produce Businesses, One Program at a Time

Successful businesses all seem to have a common bond – a commitment to quality, consistency, and integrity. During a recent trip with my colleagues, I saw firsthand the many ways that companies are turning to my agency – the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – to provide these factors to pave their path to success.

Our first stop was the packinghouse at West Coast Tomato LLC in Palmetto, Fla. Thanks to meeting USDA audit requirements, the high-volume packer can confidently sell its tomatoes to restaurants, grocery stores, and re-packing companies. The fascinating thing about West Coast Tomato LLC is that the facility is nearly completely automated. Almost all of the tomatoes are sized and sorted mechanically. “Our use of technology has significantly decreased our re-packing,” says plant director John Darling. “As a result, we’re better equipped to meet buyer requirements.”

Partnering to Improve Market Data in Brazil

Quality data is paramount when it comes to helping markets reach their full potential. This is especially true in the agriculture industry where businesses are always searching for reliable data that can help them make important decisions like what to produce or how much to buy. I recently joined a team of USDA employees from my agency -- the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) -- and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) that traveled to Brazil to share how we collect and disseminate key market data to help buyers and sellers make informed decisions.

Our trip to Brazil presented several opportunities to increase transparency in the inter-connected global marketplace. The primary purpose of the trip to Brasilia was to participate in the Regular Meeting of the Market Information for the Organization of the Americas (MIOA), which brings together a network of 33 member countries to collect, process, analyze, and disseminate information relative to markets and agricultural commodities.

Grains, Trains and Global Success

Fall is harvest time and our rural communities are bustling with activity.  For American soybean farmers the days start in the early dawn, and they stay until the last light is gone, tending fields that seem to stretch to the end of the world.  But success for them relies on more than just growing a good crop.  Their soybeans must also move efficiently from the fields to the far corners of the world.

Helping farmers understand the importance and impact of transportation trends is one of the services provided by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).  AMS helps growers and exporters by gathering agricultural transportation data for a wide array of publications that are available to everyone on our agricultural transportation website.

Hawaiian Canoe Carries Pledge of Conservation Around the World

On May 30, the double-hulled voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a set sail from the Hawaiian Islands on a more than 50,000-mile, 26-country journey around the world. The crew’s mission: to spread the word about the importance of world conservation.

The dual-masted, 62-foot Hōkūle‘a, along with her escort the voyaging canoe Hikianalia, will travel to Tahiti, New Zealand, Indonesia, South Africa around Cape Horn, Brazil and Florida, and through the Panama Canal before heading to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). At Rapa Nui, younger crewmembers will take the helm and sail back to Hawaii.

International Student Visitor Arrives for Forest Service Internship

Wellington Cardoso, an undergraduate student from Brazil, arrived in Auburn, Ala., this past January to begin an internship with the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station where he’s been studying a biomass harvesting operation.

“The research unit has been examining harvesting technologies for short rotation woody crops,” said Dana Mitchell, project leader of the Forest Operations research unit, which is hosting Cardoso. “Cardoso’s internship ends in July, and he has been able to witness field operations in action.”

In Brazil, a Search for Fungi to Control Disease-Spreading Insects

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

If you want to find a fungus that controls disease-spreading insects, you might want to go somewhere known for its biodiversity. So it makes sense that USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) microbiologist Richard Humber will be traveling to Brazil over the next three years to join Brazilian scientists in searching for fungi to control black flies, sand flies and the types of mosquitoes that spread malaria, dengue and yellow fever.

Fungi are now used to control insects on crops. Beauveria bassiana, a fungus found in soils throughout the world, is widely sold for controlling thrips, whiteflies, aphids and beetles. Different types of fungi are also sometimes used to control mosquitoes, but they are not easy to handle or to apply, and their effectiveness has been questioned.

At World Cup in Brazil, USDA Grasses Score Big

Here’s something to kick around: About half of the soccer matches at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil have been played on turfgrass bred jointly by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the University of Georgia.

Turfgrass is a billion-dollar industry, creating jobs at nurseries, sod farms, golf courses and a variety of stadiums and other athletic facilities. ARS has been breeding warm-season turfgrasses since the 1950s, and has worked closely with scientists at the University of Georgia for decades. It’s been a particularly productive partnership and is responsible for producing turfgrasses that are used on some of the world’s top golf courses and athletic fields.

Of the 12 stadiums that are World Cup sites this year, three are using Tifway 419, a bermudagrass developed in Tifton, Ga., and released in 1960 by the late Glenn Burton, a pioneering ARS grass breeder. Three other stadiums are equipped with TifGrand, a shade-tolerant and extremely wear-resistant bermudagrass released jointly by ARS and the University of Georgia in 2008. Another Tifton-bred variety, TifSport, was used at the 2010 World Cup in Durban, South Africa.