Go ahead. Pitch that tattered 2019 calendar in the trash. But as you do, it’s worthwhile nonetheless to keep some of the past with us into the new year and the new decade. Especially for those keeping an eye on the competition from South America. It gives us perspective.
So let’s keep at least one thing in mind this year as this blog follows Brazilian production, infrastructure, trade and so on: as important as ag is to the United States economy, it’s yet more of a live-or-die question for places like Brazil. And that context can help a lot of things make more sense to people from the rest of the world scratching their heads over South American ag happenings.
It’s all relative
As we track what the Brazilians are doing in coming 2020 blog entries, keep in mind that eight of the 10 top Brazilian exports are agricultural products. That’s why they call Brazil the world’s grocery. Taking data from Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry for the first 11 months of 2019, the value of Brazil’s ag product exports came to $61 billion-- some 30% of the value of everything the country shipped abroad.
Soybeans and products, corn, chicken, sugar, beef and coffee are among those products, joined by iron ore and petroleum. It was corn, by the way, whose exports leapt highest, year over year, for the period. More than 43 million metric tons went to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, among other places. Meanwhile, other factors like the Sino-U.S. trade war and the low value of Brazil’s basement-dwelling currency contributed to keep the soy complex in first place among total Brazilian exports.
At the moment, Brazil is governed by an administration avidly cutting regulations and pushing its ag economy. But even under earlier, far-Left governments, the biggest curtailments to all-out ag production and sales were a mere matter of turning the knobs a bit here and there in terms of regulations.
And so the country’s aggressive stance on making its living through food production is not likely to go away any time soon despite efforts to increase exports of other things like short-hop passenger jets.
In that regard, the 2020 calendar looks a lot like the 1980 calendar and the 1940 calendar.