I stilll haven't been on a farm in Brazil. But I''m getting closer. I've met a couple farmers.
They are with Aprosoja, the organization that represents farmers in state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, like the Illinois Soybean Association represents farmers in the state of Illinois.
Over dinner I got in a couple really smart questions to the vice president who had driven in hundreds of miles to be at this meeting.
Have you started harvesting soybeans yet?
No, not yet.
Then he had to go talk to some of the ISA farmer directors about what I hope was more important things than I could think of.
What I gathered through an interpreter is about 3% of the beans have been harvested and folks are really happy. Yields are good (not great) and the prices are good. Now if it doesn't start raining and not stop for a month they'll get their crop off and put profits in the bank.
I had a little better luck asking questions of a young man working for Aprosoja, whose father farms in Mato Grosso. He talked extensively about challenges his father faces – environmental restrictions to save the rain forest (even though the true Amazon rain forest is hundreds of miles away), lack of rail lines and highways, and absence of credit to name a few.
Despite the problems, he said he would like to return to the farm someday.
With a wife? I asked.
He said he has a girlfriend and has been seeing her for five years, but was not ready to think about marriage.
“I hoping I can extend ... this relationship for another five years before…,” he said, going silent as he tried to think of the right word in English for what he had in mind in Portuguese.
Sounds like some of the farm boys I know back in the states.