Five farmers, five questions - Jenna Sudeth, Sangamon County

What IFB South American study tour participants learned.

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Sangamon County farmer Jenna Sudeth inspects a sample of Brazilian soybeans at HBSA Hidrovias do Brasil, the largest barge provider in Mato Grosso. (Photos by Rita Frazer)

By Rita Frazer

Ten Illinois Farm Bureau members attended a recent, 12-day study tour of Argentina and Brazil. We asked five of them five questions to find out what they learned.

Below are Jenna Sudeth’s answers. Sudeth works on her family’s 2500-acre farm, consisting of corn, soybeans and a cow-calf cattle operation in Sangamon County. Sudeth is currently part of the Illinois Farm Bureau ACT program and is a former Young Leader.

1. How does cost of production for South American farmers compare with Illinois farmers? 

Sudeth: The general feeling we took away was that their cost of production is lower; however, the price that they’re getting at the end of the year is also lower. So, return on investment is quite similar. Their seed costs are lower because they’re able to reuse their seed. But also with that in Brazil, they don’t yet have Liberty Link Soybeans or dicamba. So, although they are able to save money there, they don’t have the newest genetics.

Sudeth and a few of the other Illinois farmers who participated in Illinois Farm Bureau’s competitiveness study tour through South America get a look at a soybean plant in the southern Brazil state of Parana.
Sudeth and a few of the other Illinois farmers who participated in Illinois Farm Bureau’s competitiveness study tour through South America get a look at a soybean plant in the southern Brazil state of Parana.

2. How do they make planting decisions in South America? 

Sudeth: They don’t go through the same steps as U.S. farmers when they’re looking at cost of production or grain prices. They (South American farmers) are really just hooked on soy. We did see at one farm in Brazil that they were putting cotton in behind soybeans. However, throughout the rest of the study tour, I came to learn that (cotton production) was maybe just because of the size of the farm. He (that farmer) had his own gin set up (on his farm), and that made it (cotton production) a possibility.  Guys are really not a fan of corn down here, unless they have it to feed (livestock). 

Related: From soybean yields to snake bites, St. Clair County farmer gives his take on what it’s like to farm in South America. Read more here.

3. What motivates a South American farmer to bring new acres into production? 

Sudeth: That level (soybean price) for farmers in Brazil is $12, but we did have somebody else mention close to $14. So there again, it’s going to depend on the producer. We did have one farmer tell us that he was only getting $7.34, so if that’s a cash price, they are a ways away from bringing more acres into production.

4. Are there concerns about input costs?

Sudeth: They didn’t seem too concerned about it. As I mentioned, they save their seed, cleaning and reusing. They are able to utilize backhauls to get their fertilizer. Agri-chemical they didn’t touch on much, but one thought I had was if they do get dicamba in their country, how much will that increase their seed and chemical cost?

5. How do South American farmers market their grain? 

Sudeth: Not a lot of farmers market their grain ahead of time. The small guys hold onto it, and they actually look at it like it is a bank. So, until they need that money, it sits on the farm and they don’t sell ahead. We learned that the larger farmers are a bit different – they are willing to sell ahead and have a little bit of a more progressive style, similar to the U.S. Some similarities to the U.S., but still very traditional and not willing to change their ways quite yet.     

Content for this story provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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