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Brazil, Latin American farmers targeted by biotech

Monsanto reports earnings and a lot of the company’s growth is based on Latin America.

Monsanto beat expectations in its earnings report Wednesday. The company's recent strong performance opens a window into the explosive technological growth in Latin American agriculture. The biotech farm supplier has cashed in selling its genetically engineered seeds and other products to farmers there.

That’s not to say the old image of the Latin American subsistence farmer is dead. But it’s dated. Big, high-tech farms are rising all over the region and changing the face of Latin farming, especially in Brazil and Argentina.

“Parallel to that traditional agriculture, you do see an emerging agribusiness sector, where you’re able to take advantage of technological advances,” says James Sterns, a University of Florida agricultural economist.

Monsanto develops and sells those technological advances. Growing Latin American agriculture means new customers for its products, such as corn, wheat and soybean seeds, as well as weed control products.

Latin American farmers want to get more out of their fields and to sell globally. So they’re investing in this kind of American farming technology to boost production.

“All the inputs that are being used in U.S. agriculture are now being adopted and used in Latin American agriculture,” says Allen Featherstone, an agricultural economics professor at Kansas State University.

It’s not just Monsanto. The Latin farming boom is also lifting other food technology companies, as well as makers of tractors and heavy equipment.

Mark Garrison: The old image of the Latin American subsistence farmer isn’t dead. But it’s dated. Big, high-tech farms are rising all over the region and changing the face of Latin farming, especially in Brazil and Argentina. James Sterns is a University of Florida agricultural economist.

James Sterns: Parallel to that traditional agriculture, you do see an emerging agribusiness sector, where you’re able to take advantage of technological advances.

Monsanto develops and sells those technological advances. Growing Latin American agriculture means new customers for its products.

Allen Featherstone: Soybean seed, corn seed, weed protection chemicals.

Allen Featherstone is an agricultural economics professor at Kansas State. Latin American farmers wanna get more out of their fields and to sell globally. So they’re investing in American farming technology to boost production.

Featherstone: All the inputs that are being used in U.S. agriculture are now being adopted and used in Latin American agriculture.

It’s not just Monsanto. The Latin farming boom is also lifting other food technology companies, as well as makers of tractors and heavy equipment. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

About the author

Mark Garrison is a reporter for Marketplace and substitute host for the Marketplace Morning Report, based in New York.
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