What I Learned About the Brazilian Dairy Industry in 2013

In early June I started telling the story of my journey in Brazil this year with the U.S. Grains Council and National FFA Organization and now I am finally continuing that story!  On day two we drove in the green bus, to Juiz de Fora for a DAIRY couple days!  EMBRAPA was our first stop, which is one of Brazil’s national dairy research centers.  We met with the kind staff there, and I had an absolute blast!!!  The center researches everything dairy related in 14 different laboratories from milk quality, reproduction, embryology, to entomology, nutrition, and the tick population that bothers dairy cattle throughout Brazil.  I was very impressed with this center and look forward to learning more about it as time passes or maybe doing research there one day.  Next we visited a dairy vocational school, Instituto de Laticínios Cândido Tostes, which teaches 150 students interested in dairy how to process milk into various delicious products.  The students are between high school and college and spend two years at the school before furthering their education elsewhere or working in the industry.  Junio, our tour guide there and an instructor did a great job of showing us the school and the dairy plant where the students gain hands-on experience.  They also conduct research in this dairy plant working with a total of 10,000 kg of milk a day (22,000 pounds) for students and research.  After a great visit to Juiz De Fora, we departed to Ponte Nova.

Day three took us to another DAIRY visit!  EMBRAPA, the national dairy research center, has an experimental farm.  Hermenegildo, a highly educated dairymen at heart took us to the dairy experimental farm and showed us around the site.  This was not a large dairy, about 60 milk cows.  They graze through part of the day and are fed a “cow salad” a total mixed ration of corn silage and elephant grass hay.  In the afternoon we headed to PifPaf, the largest food processor in Minas Gerais, BRA.  It’s a vertically integrated, privately held poultry and pork processing company.  At some of their chicken processing facilities they process 150,000 chickens a day!!  Unfortunately we couldn’t go inside their feed mills or facilities, but we learned through the process about the great deal of care Brazil takes to ensure a safe food supply.  The poultry industry of Brazil is one it’s fastest growing agriculture sectors.  In 2011 they held 39.7% of the world marketplace for chicken!  As the United States biggest competitor in food production, they are on top of their game.

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I WENT TO BRAZIL, please read about it! 

“The world is a book and those who not travel read only one page.”  St. Augustine

How many of you have ever opened a book and only read one page?  That could be many of you, but if you are like my little sister…I’d say there’s a small chance that happened!  If you have done that, think to yourself “Do I remember what that book was even about?”  My gut feeling tells me you may remember the title, but most likely have no idea what the whole book incorporates, what of it’s adventures, what of it’s characters, what of it’s scenes painted with words?  Though it was boring to you, it may be the world to another!  Or it could be the world to you, and boring to another!  That’s exactly how I like to interpret St. Augustine’s quote above.  There is such diversity in this world and every inch created by God holds great adventures, amazing characters, and breathtaking scenery!  Yet some will choose to never travel, and some catch the so-called “traveling bug”.  I have been blessed to travel around the United States, live in California for a summer and now spend ten days in South America.  

Brazil is the largest country of South America and one of the most biologically diverse nations in this world!  I am still processing all that I witnessed and learned there!  I am so grateful for the experience made possible to me by the U.S. Grains Council, National FFA Organization, and local sponsors Worthington Veterinary Medical Center of Worthington, MN, Farm Credit Services of America, and Glacial Lakes Energy LLC both of Watertown, SD.  The program that took me to Brazil is called the International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership Program, I-CAL for short.  I applied to go on this learning adventure with the National FFA Organization and U.S. Grains Council earlier this year, and found out in March that I was chosen!  The mission of the program, which goes to a different area of the world each year, provides an opportunity for college agriculture students to learn about how the global marketplace affects American agriculture.

I would like to take the time to write about each day of my experiences in the country that holds 25% of the world’s rain forests!  Day one was on my birthday, May 18, we landed in Manaus, Amazonas, and made it through customs without a problem.  Then we connected to our flight bound for Rio de Janiero.  Arriving there early morning we headed to collect our luggage and find our traveling companions of Brazil, Alfredo and Marcia Navarro de Andrade.  The joyful and friendly couple took us to meet our Brazilmobile, and Rui, our mad skills bus driver.  We loaded up the billion pounds of luggage, mine at least half that!  Then started off headed for breakfast at a local German cafe, Pavelka.  Linguiça, a smoked cured sausage with paprika and garlic, made my stomach very happy along with some rich Brazilian coffee and french bread!  Then we headed to our first hotel, a sweet bed and breakfast in Petrópolis.  Petrópolis, known as “The Imperial City” of Brazil, lies the state of Rio de Janiero.  There we visited the Imperial Museum, which served as the Imperial family’s summer palace.  This glorious almost pink colored mansion filled our morning with it’s intricate wood & artwork, collection of historical pieces, paintings and history of the Imperial family’s life and Brazil.  Unfortunately we couldn’t take any photos inside.  We did wear funny slippers over our shoes to keep the beautiful wood floors clean, but I think they just wanted free floor polishing!  After that we headed for lunch and on to a Tour of the Bohemia Brewery.  The brewery was started in 1853, making it Brazil’s oldest brewery and is still in production!  We learned about everything from the ingredients, alchemy, processing, bottling and distribution in the Tour of the Bohemia Factory.  It was a great day to ease in to Brazil, check back later for the days to come!

Headed to Brazil for two weeks with the U.S. Grains Council and National FFA Organization for the I-CAL Program! I can’t wait to learn about their agriculture industry and culture!! I will try to keep updates here but most of the news about my journey there will be posted upon my return! See you in two weeks USA!