Farming, Politics

On my way to the farm – An Indigenous Toll

Every week, on my way to the farm, I have to pay a toll for indians.

There is no other choice.
The road that passes over their land is the shortest one that connects Sapezal region(1.500.000 soybeans acres) to the rest of the state. Alternatives are unpractical and at least 100 miles longer.

Knowing that, they charge us on both directions, R$20 (about 8,50 US dollars) on cars or pickups, and R$50 (21,30 US dollars) on trucks.

Toll Receipt

Toll Receipt

Of course, the toll is unconstitutional, and disrespect the right to come and go of any brazilian citizen, but because the enforcement of the law could raise a riot, things stay as they are. In a certain way, everyone that lives around or has a business related to this region, is a hostage of the situation.

The indians aren’t obliged to provide any service in return, but with the road conditions so bad that the ordinary population attitude towards them has been anything but friendly, something different happened last week…they have started using a portion of the toll’s money on road repairs.

So unusual, that became a new of national level.

Highlight: Monsanto - INTACTA RR2 PRO hat

Highlight: INTACTA RR2 PRO™ hat

You can check the whole video report(and my fellow above advertising INTACTA), here.

reserva utiaritireserva utiariti - buracos

reserva utiariti - pagando pedagio

Farming, Photography

Helicoverpa Caterpillar Update

These pictures were taken yesterday morning and I think summarizes the scenario across all Mato Grosso.

Helicoverpa is here, everywhere, but easily under control. We have been more vigilant than usual, true, and spraying wherever is needed(some fields are on its 5th), but even the fields from some more reckless farmers are looking fine. This is quite unexpected and my guess is that it’s probably related to the high moisture conditions present in Mato Grosso, conditions that didn’t happen in Bahia last year, when this plague took control over there. Still, we should be aware that a dry spell(+15days) on january, in Mato Grosso, isn’t a rare event and would certainly make things harder, even though most of the potential loss is gone given soybeans late growth stage. Something odd, is that the Soybeans Looper(Pseudoplusia includens), a regular caterpillar, is the one causing problems this season.

Anyway, soybeans are looking great, much more than last year.



Farming, Politics, Soybeans

Helicoverpa Caterpillar – An Ongoing Fight

Three months ago, just before planting, we were scared on how the now famous Helicoverpa caterpillar would behave in our crops…

This motherf****r goes right in the pods

…scared because we knew that the pesticides currently allowed in Brazil do not control helicoverpa effectively. According to research and previous farm experiences in Bahia, they are only efficient until helicoverpa reaches about 0,5 inch. After that, they look more like vitamins to the caterpillars. Half an inch is a risky threshold and there wasn’t a safeguard, a last minute weapon, so we urged to the approval of emamectin benzoatean effective inseticide available in more than 77 countries, including Australia, Argentina, USA, and Europe, but still under the stuck-in-the-mud brazilian government studies, who apparently judges itself much better than its international counterparts.

Meanwhile, and knowing that this approval could take months to come(or never come), Mato Grosso’s institutions and companies acted quickly to intruct farmers on how to monitore, recognize, and control this plague.  Constant monitoring has been the order since then and fortunately it has worked. We are now in the middle of 2013/14 soybeans season in Brazil. Early fields will start to be harvested next week and by now everything is under control in most places. Costs are higher but yields are not being affected.

Farming, Politics

Amazon Deforestation – A Farmer’s View – The Environmentalists Pretense

Last month, the Brazilian government released its annual figures for deforestation in the Amazon. Interestingly, this one number, despite being a good new, generated a great number of negative headlines around the world. The likes of “Huge increase in Amazon deforestation rate” in the Telegraph, or “Amazon destruction on the rise again” in the Greenpeace, and “Amazon deforestation up by one-third” on a countless eco blogs spreaded around the web. None of them seems to take into account the whole historical series, and on doing that, they induce the reader to misinterpret the data as a calamitous number. 

Let me make it clear.
The chart below shows the numbers since 1988, when mensurations began. You can see the ugly data from a decade ago and beyond, when no one was watching. Then, since 2004, after a series of government measures, rates have fallen drastically. The 2013 figure, 5.843km² is the second smallest deforested area ever in absolute terms. A 78% fall from the peak and just 2% points from the country’s commitment to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 80% up to 2020.

2013 deforestation

Amazon deforestation rates since 1988 in square kilometers

A broader look and there is no huge increase or spike in 2013. The actual number indicates the estabilization of a long-term objective and it is where the rate will fluctuate for years to come. Brazil has now the most rigorous environmental legislation in the world. It requires that farms in the Amazon biome must preserve 80% of their arable land. The 20% left, is where deforestation happened this year, and where it will occur on the next. And because private properties comprehend a minority 24% of the Amazon territory, it means only 4,8% are legally suitable for agricultural use. An outrageous number in a world where we desperate need more food.

Anyway, outrageous or not, we can discuss that later. At this moment, what we can say about it, is that is already a great achievement. One that has not yet ceased as international NGOs, the environmental lobby and poor journalism, forces to highlight. What is even more intriguing though, it is that such requirements on private lands do not exist in any other country in the world. Argentina, Europe, Canada, and the United States, have already cleared most of their arable land. Yet, brazilian farmers and ranchers have been sold by environmentalists to the world public as villains of the environment.

Around here…We know we are doing our part. Better than your country, better than anyone else.

Humor, Videos, Weekends

Commercial video that shows girls dancing on top of a Self-Propelled Sprayer makes success in Brazil

Stara, a brazilian agricultural implements and machinery factory produced this very interesting videoclip from its last self-propelled sprayer, called “Imperador”.

…a funny fact is that Stara’s factory is located in a city with one of the weirdest names in Brazil, it is called “Não-Me-Toque”, that in english literally means “Don’t-Touch-Me”.

13:48 update
Some twitter pearls of wisdom:
“beats a free hat”
” I’m opening Iowa distributor store deal”
“Think someone should tell John Deere that they need to up their game on their sprayer advertising.”
“who cares what fields looks like if they are riding along…. Hell who cares if we r even spraying”
“Here in ‘Merica we’d have big pie eatin wimin fighting over a chikin wing under the training seat.”
“well I’m screwed, I don’t need an 90 foot boom for 10 acres of pumpkins”

2013/12/15 update
my bad…I forgot this was a machinery ad.
…should have placed a link to their website somewhere.
Here it goes: (english version)

Farming, Politics

Indigenous Areas in Brazil – A Farmer’s View – The Anthropologists Pretense

Anthropology is one of the pillars to a sustainable world, no one questions that. It is an essential tool to understand people needs, past connections, integrate them, avoid and correct historical injustices, and make the world a better place. Along with ecology in the recent years it is also likely the science that have most called the attention from the overall, urban population, not directly involved in the issues determinated by its studies. I cite ecology because it is a more global phenomenon and helps foreigners to have an idea on the magnitude of the role that anthrophology has also played in Brazil, especially affecting rural communities.

Let me complete saying that its role is a just, dignified and important role, of course. We are still a country where virgin lands are plenty and as civilization advances to them there is a natural clash between populations. And so the importance of a mechanism to mediate that. That said, its easy to note that for years there wasn’t enough coverage to protect indigenous people interests around here. Agriculture, the one we are talkin about now, grains, started its advance in the 70’s towards the mid-west of the country. The State was not really present in the process, spoils were made, land was seized, killing was common. Not only for indigenous I should add, this was a mess everywhere. Something like the american old-west stories when eveybody was hunting for gold.
Yeah, that is pretty recent. In Mato Grosso for instance, some guys are still alive to tell you these stories eye-on-eye. In some areas, there are three, four papers testifying the ownership of the land, each for a different owner. It is a vestige of that days. Indigenous, without the apparel of  antique lawyers and powder, were the ones that suffered the most amidst the turmoil.

Now, Brazil has finally matured. We are a consolidated democracy, and society is pursuing for retractions wherever it is possible. One of the possible ? Indians, a long suffered minority. An extremely important question, no doubt. But unfortunately, after this initial, noble effort to correct errors from the past, things lost control. What is happening in Brazil has surpassed the level of absurdity. Under the government agencies arms and international NGOs, what is being done in most cases is the spoil of productive land, disestablishment of longtime(10,20y+) rural communities, and the demarcations of gigantic areas to alleged tribes that are wearing Nike shoes, Rayban glasses, and Samsung smartphones.

Under the claim that “We were here before the Brazilian state was even formed” any demarcation seems possible for anthropologists.

Numbers and pictures speaks for itself:




Farming, Music

The Peterson Farm Bros present: “CHORE”


I used to help feed cattle as a lad 
Pitchin’ hay in the bunk just like my dad
Now I’m a farmer too, I grow your beef for you
I guess you might not know just what it takes
To help produce those thick and juicy steaks
It starts with guys like me, out on the farm you see

I load the corn, I load the (HAY!)
Then the silage fills it all the way
The wagon churns, I pull ahead 
Cattle know that they about to get fed
They hear the noise, they run around (HEY!)
Cattle thunder gonna shake the ground
It smells so good, they see it now

I got the eye of the bovines, at dinnertime, staring through the sunshine
Cause I am a farmer and they wanna see me chore
Morning, morning and night
Cause I am a farmer and they wanna see me chore
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
They wanna see me chore

Now the cattle know that I’m their guy
I treat ’em right, keep ’em healthy and alive
I feed to zero, so I’m their hero

The markets go down, the costs go up (HEY!)
The farming life can get so rough
I feed in the cold, I feed in the rain
The weather makes you go insane
It can hold me down, but I’ll get up (HEY!)
A true farmer will never give up
I love my job, and I know that

I got the eye of the bovines, at dinnertime, staring through the sunshine
Cause I am a farmer and they wanna see me chore
Morning, morning and night
Cause I am a farmer and they wanna see me chore
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
They wanna see me chore

Chore, chore, chore, chore

I got the eye of consumers, at dinnertime, or standing in the checkout line
Cause I am a farmer and you’ll wanna see me chore
Morning, morning and night
Cause I am a farmer and you’ll wanna see me chore
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’ll wanna see me chore

Farming, Sucession, Videos

Farmland – a documentary film

James Moll, the Academy-Emmy-Grammy Award winner documentary maker, is filming and close to release (March, 2014) a movie about farmers and ranchers.
He has previously directed and produced many successful pieces, including some co-works with Steven Spielberg and Matt Damon (check his bio), so probably this will be a good movie.

Take a moment to view this trailer.

Books, Farming, Sucession

Howard G. Buffet’s book: 40 Chances

I’m probably late on this,
but I had no idea Warren Buffet’s son, the farmer one, had released a book.
You should already have heard about him. Last year, Warren Buffet choose Howard to succeed him as chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, the multibillion dollar holding company. At the time, the world was surprised to hear the name of someone who has been a farmer for most of its adulf life, instead of a former company’s executive.

His book is called 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World
and it’s about philantrophy, or, as the elder Buffett describes it “a guidebook for intelligent philanthropy”.

It debuted on NYT Bestseller list at # 5 for nonfiction, and seems quite interesting.
First, it’s a book written by a farmer. (the richest one probably …but hey! this guy, like his dad, keeps his feet on the ground!)
Second, the title inspiration comes from a talk he heard on a farm-equipment show. (I’d would like to hear that too…the ones I’ve heard are not inspiring me to write a book.)
Third, this book likely has some agriculture insights from the Buffets. (great!)
Fourth, find/learn more effective ways to help others around the world. (have you been doing your part?)

…and fifth, and most important, he is the only guy I know who has a picture with Shakira inside his combine. (who wouldn’t want that ? )

You can also get to no know a little more by checking out this nice CBS interview with dad and son
or this Bloomberg story on the book
or by buying the book