Today’s blog post is guest-written by Brandon Whitt, a Case IH customer from Murfreesboro, Tenn. He recently participated in the Partners in Agricultural Leadership (PAL) program, which is facilitated by the American Farm Bureau Federation. This year’s PAL class took a trip to Brazil to learn more about the agriculture industry and how agriculture can be affected on a global scale. In this blog post, Brandon shares his experiences in the PAL program. Brandon also is the 2014 National Young Farmer of the Year.
The expectations and hype of this long-awaited trip lived up to everything I had hoped it would be. My wife, Katherine, and I run Batey Farms and live on land that has been in our family since 1807. Running red equipment has been a long-standing tradition on our farm. Katherine and I dedicated ourselves years ago to “Be Ready” for what we saw happening. As larger farms began to be developed into houses and retail, we knew we had to have a different approach to farming. Today, with the help of our wonderful neighbors who are now our customers, we have created local markets for many things that we grow on the farm.
As a proud American farmer, I could not wait to see how things were done in Brazil. For years, I had been hearing about the exploding agricultural markets there and I really wanted to see how that affected what we do at home. During the first few days of our trip, we were in southern Brazil in the state of São Paulo. This is one of the most diverse areas of production agriculture in the entire country because of its climate, rainfall and location. Sugarcane and coffee were very prominent. The sugarcane industry was especially intriguing because of new technologies. An increase in production is vital to Brazil because of its cellulosic ethanol refineries. Much like corn ethanol here in the U.S., sugar has added another alternative for the Brazilian people to have renewable energy.
On the tour’s third day, we stopped at a Case IH production plant near Piracicaba, São Paulo, and toured the assembly lines for sugarcane and coffee harvesters. This facility was extremely impressive, teaching us the ins and outs of all the new technology being introduced to handle new yields and challenges in the fields. Sugarcane harvesters are quite impressive machines, capable of handling more than 100 tons of material per acre. The rigorous demands of sugarcane harvesting are like none I’ve ever seen. These harvesters endure hundreds of hours of use to process the bulky crop.
After seeing them being built in the plant, we traveled to a local Case IH dealership that primarily sold tractors and sugarcane harvesters. The manager walked us through their shop and sales floor. He explained that for that dealership, it was all about service. He was on call 24/7 during sugarcane harvesting season to keep these machines up and running. The dealership works with several custom harvesting groups that average 4,000 hours per machine per year. I really appreciated his dedication to seeing the machines perform well and keeping his customers happy.
Overall, Brazil was an amazing experience and it’s because of partners like Case IH. Brazil has so much to offer its people and the world: not just food, but renewable energy that can help sustain this planet and make energy more of a local product. Brazil faces many challenges today that are different from those we face here in America. For example, Brazil’s infrastructure is many years behind ours, but they are steadily improving their ability to become a global leader in food production. I see this as a call to action for American agriculture; we must not let ourselves become complacent in our food production. We must continue to strive for a better tomorrow.
In closing, today’s world demands that we “Be Ready” for the challenges that lie ahead of us in agriculture. If we stop here, today’s successes could very well be tomorrow’s failures. We must continue to strive for greatness on so many levels, be that in higher production, environmental improvements or customer satisfaction. Case IH stands ready to help American farmers take on the tasks laid before us. Innovative thinking, improved equipment and better resource use will be our goals. We must see countries like Brazil as real competition, yet partners in meeting our end goal of providing three meals a day for every person on this planet. Regardless of ethnicity, demographics or moral beliefs, the common bond we all have is nutrition. I am proud to stand with farmers all over the world, ready to meet those demands!