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 USDA says Brazil to plant record amount of soybean

WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) - U.S. Agriculture Department on Wednesdayforecast Brazil to significantly lower its plantings of cotton and cornduring the 2001/02 season as more farmers turn to soybeans.With falling international cotton prices and a surplus of Brazilian cornfrom 2000/01, USDA projected Brazil to harvest a record 41.5 milliontonnes, up 2.5 million estimated last month and 8 percent more than lastyear."Given these underlying conditions, USDA expects that the diversion ofland away from corn and cotton production in 2001/02 will be bothwidespread and substantial across Brazil," USDA's Foreign AgriculturalService said on its website.USDA said the depreciation of Brazil's real currency against the U.S.dollar has also enhanced demand for cheap Brazilian soybeans.A significant amount of the shift in acreage from corn to soybeans isexpected in the southern growing areas of Grande do Sul, Parana and SantaCatarina, USDA said.The primary change from cotton to soy was seen in the state of MattoGrosso, where farmers have indicated they may reduce cotton acreage bymore than 25 percent.USDA currently forecasts 2001/02 soybean area at a record 15.5 millionhectares, up 500,000 hectares from last month and 11 more percent morethan last year.Another bumper soybean harvest for Brazil could damper U.S. exportsoverseas if major buyers, like China, Europe and Japan, turn away fromgenetically modified foods.Since about 70 percent of the U.S. soybean crop is planted with GM RoundupReady soybeans, Brazil, which bans GMO crops, has become the major sourceof non-biotech soy products.


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