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American farmers move to Brazil.

Though the United States has a rich agricultural and rural heritage, few people these days dream of becoming farmers. The cost of good farmland is prohibitively expensive and the return on the investment of labor and capital in farming enterprises is small, making farming possible for only large operations that can benefit from economies of scale. So, what is a burgeoning farmer to do? Why, buy land in Brazil, of course.

Brazil seems like farming nirvana. The country boasts of untold acres of undeveloped land south of the rain forest basking under a sunny climate that can allow the growing of two or three crops every year. Indeed, according to the Los Angeles Times, the cerrado scrubland of central Brazil is "the biggest addition of arable land on the planet since homesteaders plowed the American prairie. But unlike the U.S. Midwest, the cerrado isn't close to being settled."

American farmers have noticed. "Hundreds of farmers in the United States have pooled their money to buy Brazilian farmland," the LA Times reports, "hiring managers to run the operations. Others have come themselves."

But while Brazil's agricultural future looks relatively bright, in the United States the industry continues to face obstacles. Probably the biggest of these is the lack of respect for property rights. American farmers face incursions on their property from a number of sources, including eminent domain seizures for highway construction projects. Other obstacles come from local zoning problems as new subdivisions gobble up what once was productive farmland. In other regions, especially in the West, farmers have come under attack for practices now deemed politically incorrect (raising elk, for instance), have been restricted from using vital water supplies over dubious environmental concerns, and will soon be forced to let Big Brother into the barnyard through the invasive National Animal Identification System (a program of dubious constitutionality) that will require farmers to register their herds and properties with the federal government.
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Title Annotation:Inside Track
Publication:The New American
Date:Dec 25, 2006
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