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March 18, 2019

30th National Soybean Forum held in Southern Brazil

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Brazil held its 30th National Soybean Forum last week in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. The forum was held in conjunction with the opening of one of the largest farm shows in Brazil. The National Soybean Forum always attracts a lot of dignitaries and this year was no exception. Participants in the forum included the Brazilian Vice President, the Minister of Agriculture, the governor of the state, numerous diplomates and visiting scientists from around the world as well as representatives from agribusinesses.

In her remarks, the Minister of Agriculture emphasized the importance of agriculture in Brazil and she indicated that Brazil could compete with anyone in the world as far as agricultural production is concerned. She reiterated President Jair Bolsonaro's commitment to the farmers and ranchers of Brazil and that he is working hard to lower taxes and interest rates for Brazilian farmers. She stated that Brazil exports its agricultural products to 190 countries and that Brazil needs to continue producing high quality products at a lower cost in order to stay competitive in the international marketplace.

The Brazilian Vice President emphasized the importance of agriculture for Brazil's GDP and especially for the state of Rio Grande do Sul where agriculture accounts for 40% of the state's GDP. He also emphasized the fact that many of the five million small family farmers in Brazil do not have access to the technologies and innovations available to larger farmers and that Embrapa should increase their efforts to provide those technologies.

The state of Rio Grande do Sul was an appropriate location for the forum about soybeans because it is the state where commercial soybean production started in Brazil more than 50 years ago. From its start in Rio Grande do Sul, soybean production has spread throughout Brazil and soybeans are now the number one agricultural crop in Brazil.

In panel discussions about soybean production, agronomist Elmar Luiz Floss, stated that soybeans is the crop that has grown the fastest in the world and it is a major source of vegetable protein used to produce animal protein. Soybeans account for 53% of the grain production in Rio Grande do Sul and he attributes the growth of soybean production in the state to various factors including: the introduction of no-till farming, the development of GMO soybean varieties, and precision agriculture. Brazilian farmers planted 1.7 million hectares of GMO grain in 1996. By the year 2018, that had grown to 189.4 million hectares.

Brazilian soybean farmers have benefited from the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China, which occurred at a time when soybean supplies in Argentina were very low due to drought. As a result, Brazil exported a record amount of soybeans in 2018, but that will not be repeated in 2019 due to lower carryover supplies.