My family and I just returned a couple of weeks ago from Brazil, where we attended the wedding of one of the students who stayed with us and interned on our farm a few years ago.
As always we had a wonderful time renewing friendships and talking about the current agricultural situation in our countries. The young men who stayed with us were agronomy students and many in their extended families are farmers, agronomists, or plant breeders.
We learned at this time that nearly everyone considers the soybean crop in Brazil to be very good, with planting and rainfall happening in a timely fashion. Many believe that the 2010 corn planted area will be somewhat lower than 2009 because of the lower price of corn, and the fact that in the center west of Brazil, there is much corn stored from last season.
We always joke with the Brazilians about how tough we each have it, farming in "our" country. The Brazilians say that their government is more strongly enforcing the reserve area (setaside) land policy. This requires land owners to add reserve areas to their farms if they are under the required reserve area, which is 20%-80%, depending on proximity to the Amazon.
My complaint was that my government wants to penalize me, saying that because we produce biodiesel, we cause Brazil's farmers to tear down the rain forest. Their response: "o dinheiro falar maise alto" -- money speaks loudly.
In other words, profitability will drive farm expansion in Brazil, not anything that we do in the U.S.