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Q & A with the Brazilian 'Soybean King'

Agriculture.com Staff 01/27/2007 @ 11:00am

SORRISO, Mato Grosso -- An increase in U.S. ethanol plants will eventually benefit the Brazilian agriculture industry, Blairo Maggi, the Mato Grosso governor and largest soybean producer in the world with 450,000 acres, told Agriculture Online on Friday.

Just two months ago, Maggi was criticized by farmers for supporting Inacio Lula in his bid for President. Lula won his second Presidential term, and Maggi remained supportive. During this farm show, producers offered applause for Maggi's initiatives.

On the sidelines of a farm show in Sorriso, Mato Grosso, Maggi discussed various issues with Agriculture Online. Brazil's president is committed to building the country's soybean industry's infrastructure in the next four years.

Q: A lot of Brazilian producers have said the Brazilian exchange rate is their biggest challenge this year in gaining profitability. What can be done about this in the future?

Maggi: The main problem is the exchange rate. For the past three years, the Brazilian Real versus the U.S. dollar went from 3.8 reals to $2.15. I don't see any change of this variability and our farmers are just going to have to work as if this rate will stay constant. So, they will have to find other tools to operate under that rate.

Q: In the past week, you mentioned you're committed to improving roads and ports for soybean transportation throughout Brazil. Is this still a priority?

Maggi: Brazil President Inacio Lula made a speech Monday and said a lot of infrastructure in Mato Grosso should be improved. The improved infrastructure has been needed for over 20 years. Building of railroads, paving of roads, and improvement of ports will happen in the next four years. I believe President Lula will stick to his word. I will work with President Lula to get this done.

Q: What impact does the build-up of U.S. ethanol plants have on Brazil's ethanol market?

Maggi: I hope the U.S. government keeps helping their producers build ethanol plants, because this will help the Brazilian producer as well. We are raising more double-crop corn. Maybe someday the U.S. will have to import ethanol if demand increases. I'm happy President Bush mentioned the other day that the government plans to support the ethanol industry more. This will help our agriculture industry as well.

SORRISO, Mato Grosso -- An increase in U.S. ethanol plants will eventually benefit the Brazilian agriculture industry, Blairo Maggi, the Mato Grosso governor and largest soybean producer in the world with 450,000 acres, told Agriculture Online on Friday.

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