In Press: AAEC’s Hudson details Brazil’s path to produce more cotton than U.S.
By: Norman Martin
Recently, Darren Hudson, a professor within Texas Tech's Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, was featured in a timely cotton-related economics article by Whitney Haigwood in the Delta Farm Press. Here's part of the takeaway.
A Texas Tech University agricultural economist reports that 20 years ago, Brazil produced approximately 3 million bales of cotton – a decade later, that number soared to 7.5 million bales.
“Today in 2023, we very well could see a year where Brazil produces more cotton than the U.S.,” said Darren Hudson, the university's Larry Combest Endowed Chair for Agricultural Competitiveness. His observations were presented at last month's national Mid-South Farm & Gin Show's International Trade Conference in Memphis.
Brazil's growing season and ample rainfall give them the edge, he said. “We better start thinking about Brazil as being the breadbasket of the world.”
The U.S. is no longer the leading agricultural producer on the planet, he said. It is Brazil, and it is going to be Brazil in the foreseeable future.
While Brazil is taking the lead, it doesn't mean the U.S. has lost its competitive stance. The U.S. still has a place in the market to be very profitable. However, the nation's producers should think strategically about all markets.
What paved the way for Brazil to push ahead in cotton production? For starters, most Brazilian farmers have the capacity to double crop. Their soybean crop is followed by a second crop – known as the safrinha crop – of either corn or cotton.
Safrinha is Portuguese for little harvest, but make no mistake; there's nothing diminutive when it comes to cotton production in Brazil. Annual rainfall averages 78 inches. The dryland, rain-fed crop produces approximately 4.5 bales of cotton per acre, and this level of production makes them highly competitive.
“If farmers in Brazil went to just a corn and cotton rotation on all the remaining acres for their second crop, they could theoretically produce 40 million bales of cotton annually,” Hudson said. “That's nearly four times U.S. production.”
Another impediment relates to China. Hudson said when U.S. exports to China dropped off during the trade war, Brazil exports skyrocketed and haven't come down. “China got used to buying Brazilian cotton, and they got the supply chain set up with their contacts,” he said.
While China is back to being the largest consumer of U.S. cotton, they're also buying cotton from Brazil. “We were once the primary supplier to China, but that's not the case anymore,” he said.
CONTACT: Darren Hudson, Professor, Larry Combest Endowed Chair for Agricultural Competitiveness and Director of International Center for Agricultural Competitiveness, Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-0546 or email@example.com
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Editor: Norman Martin
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