Here in the U.S., grains and oilseeds are measured in bushels, but in Brazil, soybeans, at least, are measured in sacks weighing 60 kg each (132 lbs). The farm price for these bags of beans is vastly different, depending on where in Brazil the soybeans are grown. In prime production areas in Brazil's interior, they're worth less, due to a virtually nonexistent transportation infrastructure, which has turned thousands of miles of Brazil's highways into long stretches of potholes and mud.
Right now, Brazil exports more soybeans than does the United States, though that may change with this year's bumper crop. There is a tendency to view Brazil as a rival in grain production, but grains and oilseed analyst Renato Rasmussen with Rabobank International in Brazil says long-term, even if Brazil were to modernize its roads, that perspective is becoming outdated.
"I don't see Brazil competing against the U.S., given the potential that there is for expansion in grain consumption in the world. There is so much population that is coming to, and is going to really need much more food in the future. I believe that both countries can really benefit from increased production, and, I really think that the U.S. has all the potential to continue leading the ag world."