Buying land in Brazil used to almost hold the same romance as old U.S. land rushes did back in the 1800s.

But today, it's buyer beware when it comes to Brazil.

There are plenty of obstacles besides just price to owning land in this bug-ridden country. Still, many U.S. farmers look southward as a way to somehow recapture their frontier spirit and hopefully make some cash.

To help you stay abreast of that country's land issues, we've teamed up with an Illinois group called South American Soy (SAS) to provide you an inside track on Brazil's agriculture. Phil Corzine, farmer from Assumption, IL, manages the organization that began in 2003.

On pages 21-22 in this issue you'll see a fascinating look at Brazil through the eyes of SAS. The group is publishing a newsletter called The Brazilian Farmland Report and throughout the year you'll see a condensed version of this in The Corn And Soybean Digest.

You may recall seeing a story in our October issue called “If You Can't Beat 'Em…” In it, author Barb Baylor Anderson profiled how SAS started with a group of Illinois farmers and now has grown to include 85 farmers and investors from 10 Midwestern states.

With that kind of growth potential, SAS obviously is keeping its finger on the pulse of Brazilian agriculture. And now you can, too, by reading regular coverage in The Brazilian Farmland Report.

For example, SAS plans to purchase up to 20,000 acres in its first eight to 10 years of operation, much of that in the state of Tocantins. Tocantins, with an average annual rainfall of 72 in., is considered part of the new frontier in Brazil's soybean expansion and is adjacent to the state of Mato Grosso.

So besides our regular Brazil column by James Thompson, who lives in Brazil, stay tuned for additional coverage by the SAS group. You can check out their Web site at www.southamericansoy.com.

LEAN & MEAN

Watch For ‘Lean & Mean’ Series

If you didn't catch it last month, be sure to watch for our new series called “Lean & Mean.” This month it appears on page 36 and is titled “Growers Pool Resources,” by Larry Stalcup.

The series will provide you a snapshot of simple, everyday things that farmers do to help trim costs and squeeze more profit from their operations. Experts regularly maintain that shaving costs is a non-stop exercise you need to work at in order to stay competitive.

This month's story focuses on how three farmers found a way to share a leased combine from a custom harvester.

Machinery sharing isn't new, of course, but these farmers found a creative way to trade out their labor and harvest costs with this arrangement.

Stay tuned for more examples like this throughout the winter.