Economy: Brazil's green revolution

The NY Times has an article about Brazil and agriculture (via Marginal Revolution).
The global effect has been powerful. In June, the United States imported more in farm products than it sold abroad, further evidence of its eroding position.
Agriculture is now a $150-billion-a-year business in Brazil, accounting for more than 40 percent of the country's exports and creating what Brazilians call the "green anchor" of their economy.
Already the world's biggest exporter of chickens, orange juice, sugar, coffee and tobacco, according to Agriculture Ministry statistics, Brazil soon hopes to add soybeans to the list, depending on what happens in that volatile market.
With a grass-fed herd of 175 million cattle that is the world's largest, it passed the United States as the world's largest exporter of beef last year. During the first nine months of 2004, sales of Brazilian beef abroad rose 77 percent over the same period last year, leading the government to predict $2.5 billion in earnings from beef exports this year.
An uncle of mine bought a large tract of land in the far north of Minas Gerais and is breeding a lot of cattle. He hit it just right as the scare of Mad Cow disease increased the value of Brazilian beef.
Chicken is very inexpensive here, as is beef. If we wanted to we could have filet mignon every night. Some of our fruits and vegetables (and even coffee) comes from our own farm, which we operate at a loss. I think for those North Americans who are concerned with the food they eat, would envy us our position.


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