Letters to the Editor

Iowa bean advantage is water infrastructure

The “Trade war delivers farm boom in Brazil, gloom in Iowa” article on Oct. 14 was right on target.

Visiting Luis Eduardo Magelhaes in 2003 with a commodity group was an eye-opening experience. The town had around 15,000 people, meager buildings and dirt streets. The largest buildings were two Quonset buildings belonging to two international grain and soybeans traders, filled with soybeans. After soybeans were dried with wood heat, they were trucked to an inland river terminal 600 miles away over terrible roads.

Our greatest advantage over Brazil is our inland river infrastructure. This 82 cent per bushel advantage could soon be lost if locks and dams are not updated in the near future as most are over 80 years old and undersized for the latest vessels.

The fields in Bahia are very large, level, and red in color. Those fields stretch for 5 or 6 miles in many cases. The soil is not the quality of Iowa’s, but with fertilizer, lime, and 60 inches of rain during the growing season, the yields are comparable to ours.

Brazil produced 51 million metric tons of soybeans in 2003 compared to 119 million metric tons last year. With over 200 million acres that could still be added, they are situated to furnish more.

Free trade is extremely important, not only to soybean, corn and pork farmers, but to all of us. If this mess isn’t settled soon, all of us consumers will pay more for most of our purchases. We must not forget that a tariff is a tax on consumers.

Larry Marek

Riverside

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