Another traveling note from my Brazilian field work in July.
So if you still remember from my previous emails, the average size of the soybean farms in Tocantins is 2000 hectares+ and usually the owner hires a professional management company to run the farm when they live in the city enjoy city life with the farm revenue.
However, the second farm that we interviewed, is a family farm. What do I mean by family farm? Conversely to the farm owners who hire management companies, this type of farm owners live on the property and run the farms by themselves. This farm that we interviewed is at the boundary of Tocantins and Bahia, with a property of 4000 hectares. The older couple has a son and a daughter. The son was traveling so we only talked to the father and the daughter.
It was the nicest house and garden that I’ve ever seen, almost reminded me of those hermits who are kungfu masters and live in mountains..They have lots of flowers and fruit trees. The family has a few playgrounds for kids since the son has small children, and they also have colorful tins for recycles. They also have a cafeteria that is clean and bright, with a water filter machine and many pairs of flip flops for you to change before you come in. They invited us to have lunch together with them. It was a buffet that the mom cooked, simple but very tasty, with beef, beans, salad, and corn bread. All the workers on the farm ate in the kitchen as well, but they sat in a separate table from us..This is another example that I saw as social segregation.
This family has been growing soybean since 1930s in the South Brazil and they’re very proud of it. They start with a few dozen hectares in the South, after a few years, sell the land and move up to a new frontier, after a few times, now they end up here in Bahia with 4000 hectares. They use 1500 grow soybeans, 1500 grow corn, and the rest 1000 they rent out. On their property there’s also a horse farm with a few beautiful horses, which I believe the family do horse back riding some time. Both the son and the daughter were home schooled, and the family also helped build the school in this town. With only home schooled experience, the daughter went to University Iowa to study Agribusiness and the son did his undergrad in Chicago. The daughter was wearing a Iowa hoodie, outside of the blue farm T-shirt they have and their farm’s name is Azul (means blue).
I think there’re differences in management style and strategies between family who lives on the farm and family who doesn’t. The former ones, apparently, care about the soil, the land, and the community. Revenue is not the only thing they care about. In return, they seem to enjoy a prosperous life, unlike the other ones suffering from climate hazards caused revenue loss.