Tag Archives: #Pal7

American PALs Cultivate Brazilian Culture

By Brandon Whitt

An extremely early morning awaited the PAL class as we gathered in the hotel lobby to make the trek from São Paulo to the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro, and the group was anxious to visit another part of the country and take in the rich and diverse culture that awaited us.

Travel always seems much easier to me when done with a group, and this proved true on our journey this particular morning, as we quickly learned our English-speaking skills would be of no help in navigating the completely Portuguese-speaking local airport. Relying heavily on our native Brazilian tour guide, Ray, we made it through check-in, security and of course airport breakfast in a timely manner to arrive at our gate. On the short flight to Rio, I could already see that this city was going to offer some amazing sights for our group.

The view of Rio de Janeiro from Sugar Loaf Mountain

The view of Rio de Janeiro from Sugar Loaf Mountain

Upon arriving in Rio, we loaded a bus to begin our sightseeing journey in and through the city. As was the case throughout most of Brazil, the class divide became very apparent very quickly. Brazil has a very small middle class compared to America; you are either rich or quite poor. In the inner city of Rio, we saw many neighborhoods full of block structures that were used as government housing. We also saw a good deal of construction of infrastructure to prepare for the World Cup later this year and the summer Olympics in 2016. Leaving the downtown area and making our way closer to the coast, we quickly saw the housing improve and businesses that catered to a higher-end lifestyle, as well as the stadium for Carnival. The stadium itself holds more than 70,000 people who have a bird’s-eye view of the dance and float competition that takes place over the four day weekend leading up to Ash Wednesday.

American PALs Cultivate Brazilian Culture - Local Cuisine

Sampling the local cuisine

During our bus journey, we took in the breathtaking view of the harbor and beach down the coast of Rio de Janeiro from the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Most likely, if you were to Google the city of Rio, this view is the first image you would see. Seeing this landscape view of the city with my own eyes was absolutely amazing. I have traveled to and seen many beautiful places in the world, but this had to be one of the very best! While indulging in the local cuisine for lunch, we learned about “rooftop roast,” which is a beef roast that has actually been sun-dried up on the rooftop. The outer edge had a crispiness to it like nothing I had ever tasted, only to find the center was as juicy and tender as if it had been slow cooked in a crock pot.

American PALs Cultivate Brazilian Culture - Cristo Redentor StatueAfter lunch we made our way to see the Cristo Redentor, also known as “the big Jesus statue on the hill.” We waited with hundreds of people to board the train that would take us to the top of the hill before climbing a long flight of steps to actually reach the top. Known for keeping watch over the city below, I couldn’t help but ponder just how valuable this monument was to the people who visited it, as hundreds of them posed to have their pictures taken with the statue in the background. I was quickly reminded of just how important Christ is in my own life. I enjoyed having the chance to visit the chapel inside the statue, pausing for a moment to praise God for all of the blessings in my own life and for the opportunity to see a broader vision of how important my job is to not only American families, but also to families all over the world.

The week was a great adventure, and we were constantly reminded of the struggles and turmoil we face within agriculture – how to dispel the doubts, fight the pests, raise the yields to meet an ever increasing demand – and, at the end of the day, how to balance it all and meet the needs of my own family.

Our week in Brazil as 10 PALs encouraged to build a better tomorrow through agriculture was certainly an eye opening experience. Each and every day was valuable in its own way, but having the opportunity to step away and see the rich diversity and culture that Brazil has to offer helped to personally bring the message home of why I choose to farm for a living. Although we live in a world where we seem to face undying scrutiny from activists, relentless weather from Mother Nature and an unsure economy at times, I was reminded that what I do matters, and I will never stop trying to make this world a better place to live.

I have to extend my deepest gratitude to each and every person who helped to make this trip possible. The fine folks of American Farm Bureau, Monsanto and Farm Credit, in my book, went all out to ensure that PAL Class 7 gained a valuable vision of global agriculture and the significant role that each participant plays.

 

Brandon Whitt is a member of PAL Class 7 blogging about his experiences in Brazil with the PAL class. Brandon is an eighth generation row crop, hay and hog farmer from Tennessee.

It Goes Both Ways

Our trip to Brazil with the AFBF PAL Class 7 has shown us a lot of different things. There are numerous similarities between our two countries: land size, diversity of crops raised in different regions, the feeling of being over regulated. But one critical lesson learned was, despite our similarities, there are differences in the two countries and cultures from which both countries can learn.

It Goes Both Ways - PAL Class 7 Outside John DeereOn our last day in Sao Paolo, we spent the day with John Deere, a very recognizable name at home in the U.S. At their corporate offices in Indiatuba, we met with Greg Christensen, an Iowa native who has seen the benefits of going outside his comfort zone and working for his employer in a foreign country. Though not fluent in Portuguese, Greg is thriving in this foreign environment. Most international companies, like John Deere, require upper level managers to speak English, making the transition easier for Greg. He’s been able to pick up enough Portuguese to order us the delicious lunch we ate while visiting John Deere, but more importantly, he’s brought the expertise of being an American-trained employee to this developing country and expanding market.

John Deere has been in Brazil less than 20 years, yet it holds the #1 market share in combines and sugar cane harvesters – not too bad for a relative newcomer. Where they are in unfamiliar territory is in the tractor market. In the U.S. “green paint” may be enviable, but in Brazil tractors are referred to as “Masseys,” the obvious market leader. Regulations are a major reason for this deficit in the tractor market: 60 percent of all components of a tractor must be produced within Brazil.  Additionally, they are lagging behind the U.S. market in sheer size of equipment they can offer, another by-product of government regulations. Brazilian farmers want bigger equipment, and John Deere is trying to meet that demand as quickly as possible.

It Goes Both Ways - PAL Class 7 Outside John Deere FactoryWe also visited the new John Deere factory outside of Campinas. This facility was so new that we were the first group to tour it. There we met with another American, Chris Chitley, a John Deere veteran from the Dubuque Iowa plant. Chris has been in Brazil for two years making this factory a reality. The new plant is brightly lit – including skylights – a vast difference from the Iowa facility. It is a relatively small facility, so all components are brought in as needed so extra parts aren’t cluttering the production lines. According to Chris, they don’t try to excel at everything, but instead focus on three core competencies at this facility: large scale welds, painting and final assembly.

While we were visiting, a group of employees from the U.S. were training their Brazilian counterparts. Although there are a few language barriers between the two groups, the trainers said they were having no problems teaching their students proper procedures. John Deere has been able to find local talent to perform the work at this plant, so they won’t need to move anyone new into the area.

While Chris is getting used to his life in Brazil, he said there were plenty of differences in the office compared to the U.S. Here, everyone is much more laid back, and he starts every morning by walking through the facility, shaking everyone’s hand and talking to them. If he were in the U.S., he would start his day by walking straight into his office and getting to work. He says the cultural differences have led him be on the production floor more and, in turn, have made him a more accessible boss.

Americans, by nature, think we do everything the best way, and in some areas we may. Our regulations, while at times bothersome, are minimal compared to other countries. As farmers, we are the envy of other countries because we have access to the most advanced equipment. We also produce this equipment in a timely manner so it is available to the masses as opposed to a few. But Americans have a tendency to stay in our little comfort zones. We keep our heads down and begrudgingly get the work done. Brazilians, on the other hand, travel to the U.S. for school and to experience life outside their country. They take that knowledge back home and put it to use. Brazilians enjoy their workday by enjoying their fellow employees. There’s a lot to be said for both strategies, but the truly successful will find a way to mesh both ways of life together!

 

Joy Davis and Adam Hinton are members of PAL Class 7. They are blogging about their experiences in Brazil with the PAL class. Joy is a fifth-generation farmer and rancher in Texas, where she and her family farm wheat, corn, grain sorghum, forage and produce cattle. Adam and his family own a farm supply business, coffee business and an insurance agency in Kentucky.

 

Brazilian Agriculture PRIDE

Brazilian Agriculture PRIDE - Case IH

Ricardo, one of the Case IH dealership owners

By Stacey Forshee and Elizabeth Kohtz

Over the last few days, we have been traveling around Sao Paulo state in Brazil as part of the international module for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Partners in Agricultural Leadership program or PAL. PAL is a two-year program to enhance leadership and advocacy skills of young farmers and ranchers.

When reflecting on tours and the people we meet, one word really stands out to describe our interactions with Brazilians involved in agribusiness and farming: PRIDE. Pride in their innovation, pride in the equipment they use, pride in the commodities they produce and pride in the companies they work for.

Brazilian Agriculture PRIDE - Case IH Award

Case IH dealership award belt

P – Producing Farm Equipment

At the Case IH Plant in Piracicaba, Brazil, we saw the assembly of sugarcane harvesters. This facility is the only Case IH plant in the world that produces sugarcane harvesters, and they export them worldwide. We also visited a family-owned Case IH dealership. Pride for their business was evident as the owners explained how they serviced 56 towns in the area and showed us the belt they won for best service of the 120 Case IH dealerships throughout Brazil.

R – Research and Technology

Brazilian Agriculture PRIDE - PAL Class in front of Sugar Cane Truck

PAL Class in front of a sugarcane transport truck

At every stop on our journey we learn about cutting edge technology in sugarcane varieties, planting and harvesting equipment, processing at the mill, and new ways to extract ethanol. Employees are proud of the companies they work for and excited for the future of the sugarcane industry. One sugarcane plant breeder sharing his research with us referred to his plants as his “boys” and said he hoped to work with the company long enough to see their “grandchildren.”

Brazilian Agriculture PRIDE - Sugar Cane Harvester

A sugarcane harvester

I – Innovation

Until relatively recently, sugarcane has been harvested by hand. Brazilian sugarcane is now 75 percent mechanized, and the harvesters have gone from being able to cut one row of cane at a time to three rows. Everyone we talk to is excited to share that Brazil is number one in the world for sugarcane production.

D – Development

Case IH proudly holds training classes for machinery drivers and mechanics. Most of these workers receive at least 45 hours of training yearly. As a developing country, programs like these help Brazilians become skilled laborers and improve their quality of life. Brazil’s booming agriculture industry has helped 50 percent of its population move into the middle class.

Brazilian Agriculture PRIDE - Sugar Cane in Transport Truck

Sugarcane in the transport truck

E – Energy

USJ Sugar Mill crushes 2.5 million tons of sugarcane into sugar and ethanol annually. During this process they are able to use cane to produce the energy required for the entire mill and refinery. The company also puts energy into improving the quality of life for people in the community. USJ provides a school, hospital, soccer fields, pools and exercise facilities for community use.

Pride needs no translation. Our South American journey has reminded us as farmers and ranchers how important it is to share our own pride of agriculture with others.  Passionate personal agriculture stories can have a major impact on everyone!

 

Stacey Forshee and Elizabeth Kohtz are members of PAL Class 7. They are blogging about their experiences in Brazil with the PAL class. Stacey and her husband David farm in north central Kansas. Elizabeth is a dairy veterinarian in southern Idaho.