Welcome To Mato Grosso, The Giant Swath Of Land That's Feeding The Entire World

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Mato Grosso
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.


Here's where Mato Grosso is located.
Here's where Mato Grosso is located.


Mato Grosso is comprised four large clusters of farms.
Mato Grosso is comprised four large clusters of farms.


This is the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics' version of that map.
The is the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics' version of that map.


Brazil is top 5 worldwide for most major crops, and is now the fourth-largest grains producer in the world.
Brazil is top 5 worldwide for most major crops, and is now the fourth-largest grains producer in the world.


Mato Grosso is usually No. 1 within Brazil for each of those categories.
Mato Grosso is usually No. 1 within Brazil for each of those categories.


The satellite view of the patchwork of crops is amazing.
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.
Many farms — like this one near the town of Ipiranga do Norte — are carved straight out of the forest.


Mato Grosso farmers have been major beneficiaries of Brazil's explosive growth in arable land - up 26 percent between 2001 and 2009.
Mato Grosso farmers have been major beneficiaries of Brazil's explosive growth in arable land — up 26 percent between 2001 and 2009.


The one farmer in the middle of this plot in the Vera region controls about 8,300 acres.
The one farmer in the middle of this plot in the Vera region controls about 8,300 acres.


Brazil's agricultural growth has been led by the Embrapa, or Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation.
Brazil's agricultural growth has been led by the Embrapa, or Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation.


Embrapa is responsible for transforming the country's savannah region - at the center of which is Mato Grosso - into what the New York Times calls the country's "grain belt."
Embrapa is responsible for transforming the country's savannah region — at the center of which is Mato Grosso — into what the New York Times calls the country's


The satellite views of Mato Grosso are spectacular. Here's some grazing livestock near a town called Sinop.
The satellite views of Mato Grosso are spectacular. Here's some grazing livestock near a town called Sinop.


And again, the spontaneous geometry is breathtaking.
And again, the spontaneous geometry is breathtaking.


The region's success has not been without controversy - deforestation has become a major concern.
The region's success has not been without controversy — deforestation has become a major concern.


The government is partially responsible. Brazil's farming growth has been subsidized by the government, to the tune of $64 billion, about six percent of the country's budget.
The government is partially responsible. Brazil's farming growth has been subsidized by the government, to the tune of $64 billion, about six percent of the country's budget.


But multinationals are also a major presence. Here's a Cargill plant in the southern part of the state.
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.
And just up the road is a mega ag plant with 20 processing facilities.


Who's eating all of Mato Grosso's food? For meat, the Middle East.
Who's eating all of Mato Grosso's food? For meat, the Middle East.



China buys 52 percent of Mato Grosso's soybean exports.
China buys 52 percent of Mato Grosso's soybean exports.



Mato Grosso is landlocked and must rely on this single route to reach the port of Sao Paolo.
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.
But that has produced another milestone: Sao Paolo is now the largest port in Latin America.


Sao Paolo port handles 780,000 tons of goods a day.
Sao Paolo port handles 780,000 tons of goods a day.

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121 Comments

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schomacker

Under Pres. Obama, the EPA has gone "out of control", producing rules and regulations that do nothing but cost the taxpayers money for no GOOD reason, just politics.

December 24 2012 at 7:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to schomacker's comment
bullsonparade1011

Let me guess, you watch Fox News.

December 24 2012 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ron

We are the largest exporter of food. Oil Exporters, Middle East and Russia are among the largest importers along with Venezuela. They raise the price of Oil way above the cost of production we need to import Oil, they need to import Food. Food is a necessity, we should raise the price of food in proportion to their raise in the cost of oil. It is simple.

December 23 2012 at 10:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bfgry484yerhdbv

.That's right Brazil. Keep cutting down the trees. Let's make this world a warmer place to live in. Won't have any people alive in this world in 100 years or so.

December 23 2012 at 7:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
YourFtr

Liberals say this is not right !! Brazil didn't build this !! Liberals say Brazil should be taxed; so that all countries could have a Mato Grosso !! L:ibeals say Brazil should be penalized for their success and should have to provide one million Donkeys and hand plows for Africa; so they can produce their own Mato Grosso !!??
Liberals will have the UN step in to penalize Brazil and redistribute Brazil'as profits from teh food sales. !!??

December 23 2012 at 6:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to YourFtr's comment
bigpapapuff425

You seriously need to get a life, dude!!

December 24 2012 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian

I AM GOBSMACKED AT THE STUPIDITY IN POSTS BELOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! wake up people!

December 23 2012 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
burnsengine

Who cares if the U.S. helped subsidize it???? (and this is coming from someone who is tired of our govt subsidizing everyone and everything)
I think it's great!
Every, single country should have a "Motto Grasso" (sp?)!!!!
Famine would drop overnight! More! More!

December 23 2012 at 3:09 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Steve

Good. Maybe we can stop overfarming our land to feed the starving masses and give it a rest. When did they say Brazil is going to begin donating the millions of tons of food to famine victims?

December 23 2012 at 2:59 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
mrstjnic

Daveles5, U R so right! Let Obama post a "GUN FREE ZONE," sign on the WHITE HOUSE lawn & see how PROTECTED he is! Take away his body GUARDS' GUNS, & see how long he lasts. Practising what he preaches. Throughout history, the first thing ppl like HITLER did, was remove arms from citizens, so they couldN'T fight back, when he took over.

December 23 2012 at 1:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Ken

So--we still produce almost twice as much grain as Brazil? And can the extremely high rate of increase on the part of Brazil be maintained? I suspect that the status of the US as the world's #1 exporter of food is in no danger for quite a long time to come.

December 23 2012 at 1:46 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
mark and sheri

And we gave Brazil Millions in foriegn aid for energy/fuel developement......

December 23 2012 at 1:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply