Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Agricultural Boom in Brazil Affects Us

Having figured out how to farm tropical lands that were thought to be useless for agriculture only 25 years ago, the Brazilians are enjoying a boom.

As reported in The New York Times, their productivity in some areas is greater than ours:

One of the last places on earth where large tracts are still available for agriculture, the region, led by Brazil, has had an explosion of farm exports over the past decade. The growth has been fueled by a combination of market-friendly economic policies and advances in agronomy that have brought formerly unusable tropical lands into production and increased productivity levels beyond those in the United States and Europe, challenging their traditional dominance of the global farm trade.

Our response to this competition has included attempts to offset its effects with subsidies:

To counter the South American advances, the United States and Europe have increased subsidies to their own beleaguered farmers. But in a pair of landmark decisions, the World Trade Organization recently ruled that such subsidies for cotton and sugar are illegal and must be phased out.

The boom allows the people of South America an opportunity to prosper – and forces us to consider whether some of our agricultural areas produce too little at too great a cost to make the effort worthwhile.

Will we see the prosperity of others as something that is good for everyone even though our less productive activities must be curtailed?


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