Iowa Corn Growers Visit Brazil

Studying the competition, Iowans learn about Brazil's capacity to increase food and fuel production.

A joint study mission composed of Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska corn grower leaders has found a new appreciation for Brazil's capacity to increase food and fuel production and compete with U.S. agriculture.

"We hear a lot of general claims about Brazil. Our challenge was to dig into the details and find out what's truth and what's rumor," says Dick Gallagher, an Iowa Corn Promotion Board director who chairs the ICPB's exports committee. "We wanted to see the industry firsthand, talk to farmers, ethanol plants, livestock producers and consumers."

The mission was designed to give corn leaders a firsthand look at Brazil's infrastructure developments, efforts to integrate farming and livestock production with ethanol and biodiesel processing, as well as their potential to make ethanol from corn in Brazil's Mato Grosso area.

Some of the observations include:

? Brazil's beef sector is expanding from producing one cow per hectare to 1.4 cows per hectare. For the immediate future, increases in Brazil's corn output will go to Brazil's livestock sector rather than exports.
? Brazil's ethanol industry currently produces 19 billion liters per year and exports 2.5 billion liters. Production will nearly double by 2012, and Brazil will develop an ethanol pipeline.
? Transportation and infrastructure are the biggest challenge for Brazil's agricultural sector, but efforts to expand and modernize their system could make infrastructure a major Brazilian asset in the future. A tour of the Port of Santos showed that with expansion, they will soon handle double the current ship size.

Iowa Corn Growers Association president Tim Recker, ICPB director Mark Heckman, and Iowa corn market development director Shannon Textor also participated in the mission along with representatives from the Illinois and Nebraska corn grower groups. Group members are sharing their findings with farmer groups in talks across the state.

Dick Gallagher notes, "Knowing your competition is critical in any business, in agriculture and corn production, it is no different - it's very important."

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