Friday, March 4, 2011

American Farmers immigrating to Brazil

      First of all, what inspired this post was Danielle's comment on the previous entry, my answer to her got so big that it became a post of it's own.
      My personal opinion it that this is GREAT for Brazil, not so Great for the US.
      These folks have money and are highly skilled and they are bringing all their money and skills to Brazil.
      These farmers are nothing like the ones we read/watched in "Grapes of Wrath", very poor, with chairs and trunks tied up to the top of the model T Fords, going from Oklahoma to California.
      They usually have a couple million dollars in the bank or in assets and see their future interrupted when the prices of their crops become less competitive in the world commodities market, the US government sometimes gives them checks to keep the land dormant or highly subsidized their farms to the point of complete stagnation.
      I personally know some farmers in Oklahoma that would love to take the same route if they had the chance, many of them are receiving a check from the US government to keep their farms dormant. Because if they farm wheat or peanuts, the US government would have to give them some high subsidies.
      The trend of immigrating to Brazil for farming is not new. Mennonite farmers have been immigrating to Brazil for over 30 years now, mostly to Mato Grosso and Goias and formed many small American communities in rural Brazil.
       This new wave of farmers are mostly going into Western Bahia and completely changing the face of that region.
        When I first saw the video yesterday, I thought, poor Americans, moving into Western Bahia, they must be so scared in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, snakes, bugs...
        After reading the link below, you are able to understand a little better, they are not actually fighting snakes at their door steps. They live in nice comfortable 3 and 4 bedroom homes, with swimming pools and Air Conditioning, in the city. They have many American neighbors and the ladies go to the gym regularly, tough life huh!
        Well, they miss peanut butter and salsa, ok, I can see that, but I really wanted to slap the last one in the back of the head when she said she missed "Starbucks", STARBUCKS!!!! Really! Give me a frigging BRAKE!
         I know some of you don't agree with me, but I think STARBUCKS SUCKS! STARBUCKS IS HORRIBLE.
         They should be glad they don't have STARBUCKS in rural Western Bahia.
         What the hell does that girl know about coffee anyway? Not much if she like Starbucks!
         In my opinion, Starbucks is all about showing off that you just paid 5 dollars for a cup of nasty tasteless coffee.
         I will take Dunkin Donuts coffee, Thank you very much! and "Cafe do Ponto" or "Melitta Premium" when in Brazil :)
         Don't get me started on how nasty Starbucks really is and we will have a whole other post...  ;)
         HERE  and HERE you can read a bit more about the American farmers who are immigrating to Brazil.


Rachel said...

Totally agree about the coffee. I drank 1 cup when I was home and was like, heelllll no. Once you go Brazilian with coffee or men, there's really no going back ;)

I find this story crazy! My uncle is a midwest farmer and does pretty damn good for himself. He grows soybeans too. Not poor at all. Would love to see them in Brazil though :)

Danielle said...

Yeah I second Rachel's comment. I don't really know how someone could miss Starbucks after having access to Brazilian coffee. But anyway, I think it's interesting that we're seeing this reverse immigration FROM the US now.

Gil and Ray said...


I just spoke with a friend of mine from Oklahoma, also a farmer, who told me it comes to a matter of farming 5000 acres in the US and making 200 Thousand dollars a year, or selling those 5000 acres in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio or Idaho and buying 20000 acres with the same money and making 1 million dollars a year in profit.
My friend has been invited to one the the Agri-tours of Western Bahia, he didn't go, but told me the farmers he know who went are pretty excited.
For them it's the difference between farming in the US and retiring at 65 years old or going to Bahia and retiring at 45 and returning home to the US with their pockets full of cash. It all comes down to where they can make more money faster.
But many will end up staying in Brazil for good, because when they come single, many times, they find a Brazilian girlfriend, get married, next thing you know returning to Idaho makes no sense.
Many of them are having babies in Brazil and their children are growing up speaking Portuguese as their first language. I see many of them staying in Brazil for life.


Gil and Ray said...


I don't even think it's between Brazilian coffee and American coffee.
I truly think Starbucks sucks when you compare to many ( almost all) American coffees.
Hell, I wish they had great coffee, their stores are sure cozzy and comfortable, they have great customer service for the most part, but their coffee is just even smells good, but when I taste it I fell betrayed :(
It really is interesting to see this reverse immigration from the US to Brazil, even better when these folks are bringing into Brazil a lot of investments and skills, Brazil only wins.

Jana @ Paper plains said...

Ok WHAT? Starbucks? That has to be a joke or they aren't really living here. But funny you posted about this, when I had my horrid flight home a few weeks ago the silver lining was a bunch of rosy neck farmers on the same flight trying to get to NC and we all became good ole friends. They had been touring Brazil looking at land which was completely confusing to me at the time but they tried to explain it in the same way. They also said how a majority of the cotton picking equipment was being bought down here at sometimes twice the cost....anyways these guys had a lot of cash and were ready to buy up all kinds of land and the group ranged from 20 somethings to seventy somethings.... they had some very interesting stories...

Gil and Ray said...


I bet you heard some great stories.
I first met American farmers that were living in Brazil back in 1989, they were Mennonites from Pensylvania and told me they lived in a small town in the state of Goias with lots of other American farmers.
They said basically land was too expensive in Ohio and Pensylvannia and they could get a lot more land for their money down in Brazil.
Those Menonittes told me they made their own Breakfast sausage, had their own schools in English for their children.
Their biggest challenge was to keep the young ones from marrying Brazilian counter parts. They felt their community would disapear if all their children married Brazilian folks.
I thought it was so interesting that the town in Bahia where the Americans are going to went from around 18 thousand people to 44 thousand people in a few years. I wonder how many of them are Americans.


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Anonymous said...

So glad you posted this. Such an important topic. America continues to loose it's ability to be self-sustaining. I find it very scary that it is so reliant on imports. Food imports (actual food, not like... Doritos). However, the government's solutions are never long term (only election term).

There is a great section in the most recent Economist called "Feeding the World" for those that have access.

Gil and Ray said...

Dear Born Again Brazilian,

I totally agree with you, our Political enviroment has turned into a big negotiation table, lobbies that have more money get ahead and everybody else fend for themselves.
I see where many of these farmers fell completely abandoned and find extreme alternatives like selling everything and moving far away to start over.
Thanks for sharing the Economist article, I will take a look.