Winners and Losers in the Soy Trap

Authors: Sara Torres*, Michigan State University
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Development
Keywords: Agribusiness, Soybeans, Brazil
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Favorable prices of Soybeans have driven Brazil into an expanding cycle of soybean production and to the occupation of the central and northern areas of the country to its production. According to Aprosoja, an association of soybean producers, the grain arrived to Brazil in the late 1800s, but it was not until the 80’s that soy expansion opened the Cerrado due to research conducted by Embrapa resolving the constraints posed by high aluminum saturation in the region’s oxisols. The flat landscape was optimal for mechanized grain production. The increases in soybean productivity has been notable, allowing expansion of soy production on smaller land area as might have been expected. Recently, the productivity levels have stabilized around 50 sacks per hectare. Yet, as the price of soybean as a commodity has increased so have costs of production. This cycle of increasing market commodity prices and increasing production costs have limited farmer’s profits and placed them into scenarios characterized as of high risk. This cycle of good prices and growing indebtedness in the production of soybean is what we have called “The soy trap”. In this trap, we encounter winners and losers. This paper explores how media outlets have made evidenced producers as the ones taking risks and loses, while agribusiness and traders become the winners in the soy trap.

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