Building Threat to U.S. Agriculture

May 19, 2010 06:10 PM
Perhaps one of the most significant transitions taking place in Brazilian agriculture is the development of that country's livestock infrastructure. The cattle are there, and the country is already the largest exporter of beef in the world. But it lacked the industry in the main cattle-growing regions. That's changing quickly. 

The Top Producer Frontier Study Tour recently visited a prime example of this transformation at the JBS beef plant in the Diamantino (GEE-ah-mon-gee-no) region of Mato Grosso. The facility has a capacity of 3,000 head per day, though it is currently processing about 1,700 head per day due to a slow worldwide economy and the fact that it is trucking all the livestock to the plant from throughout Mato Grosso.
The plant does have plans to grow far beyond its current production as it expands to add a feedlot and housing for the employees to work at the plant and in the supporting industry. It is essentially building its own infrastructure from the plant out.
With 25 million head of mostly grass-fed cattle in Mato Grosso alone, the opportunities are astounding. In fact, farmers like Ricardo Silva who is a Mato Grosso soybean producer and the 2ndin command of the Mato Grosso Soybean producer association, Aprosoja, says this livestock development is opening a new crop rotation for his farm.
Aside from beef expansion, there is also emphasis on pork and poultry development. A 150,000 head-capacity chicken processing plant in the east-Brazilian state of Bahia is just months from opening. And it's already set up for expansion and will double in size when demand makes it feasible.
While the group didn't tour the hog facility just 10 kilometers down the road from the JBS beef plant, they are processing one million head per year at this plant.
The public and the government are behind these plans to build the industry, at least for now. With this rapid development of slaughtering capacity and the transportation systems to back it up, look for Brazil to become even more of a major player in the worldwide protein market.

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