By Rob Wile
Since World War II, the U.S. has been hailed as the world’s breadbasket, pumping grains and meat from its fertile heartland out to the world.But another country is snatching that mantle away: Brazil.
In 2001, Brazilian agricultural exports totaled $16 billion, according to USDA analyst Oliver Flake. By 2010 exports had climbed to a record $62 billion and reached approximately $80 billion in 2011.
That represents an increase of 400 percent over 10 years. Comparatively, U.S. exports rose about 175 percent over the same period, Flake says.
What’s their secret?
A place called Mato Grosso.
Mato Grosso is comprised four large clusters of farms.
The satellite view of the patchwork of crops is amazing.
Many farms – like this one near the town of Ipiranga do Norte – are carved straight out of the forest.
The one farmer in the middle of this plot in the Vera region controls about 8,300 acres.
The satellite views of Mato Grosso are spectacular. Here’s some grazing livestock near a town called Sinop.
But multinationals are also a major presence. Here’s a Cargill plant in the southern part of the state.
And just up the road is a mega ag plant with 20 processing facilities.
Mato Grosso is landlocked and must rely on this single route to reach the port of Sao Paolo.
But that has produced another milestone: Sao Paolo is now the largest port in Latin America.
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