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Brazil: The Bean Queen

The U.S. is the reigning bean queen no more: instead, Brazil is now leading the global pack in soybean production.

In the 2020-21 season, Brazil produced a record 4.99B bushels of soybeans, up 8.9% from last season’s record crop of 4.59B bushels. This year’s land harvested will break the country’s record yet again with 95.16M acres, up 4.2% from last season.

Clearing new frontiers: Brazil’s soybean crop has grown exponentially in the last two decades, with production expanding first from the Southeast up to the Midwest and now to the North/Northeast regions.

Some trees were harmed in the making of those soybeans. The soybean boom has come at the expense of millions of acres of Brazil’s forests and grasslands.

And mama’s always right: Mother Nature is seemingly warning against clearing forests and vegetation in Brazil for ag production, with signs of local and regional temperature increases.

But even with these regional weather changes costing Brazil’s soybean farmers an estimated $3B+ per year in lost productivity, profits grabbed by claiming more land for soybeans outweigh the economic harm.

Carbon credit conservator: One new initiative involving 55 growers in Maranhão and Mato Grosso states, in the heart of Brazil’s farm country, is trying to change that economic incentive by rewarding producers for their “environmental services.”