|Howell Farms has long had an interest
in South American agriculture and the potential that exists there for future
generations of agricultural production. Many factors have come together
to hasten direct action on our interest in South America. One is
the shrinking base of productive farmland in the U.S. due to urban sprawl
and public policy. Control of farmland has become more difficult
as values become based on development potential rather than productive
capacity and policies are directed toward hobbyist farmers and sometimes,
unrealistic environmental concerns.
Another is the belief that production agriculture in the U.S. will continue to consolidate, as have many other industries and other sectors of the agriculture industry. Additionally, we acknowledge that we participate in a globally competitive industry. We recognize that improved standards of living worldwide lead to increased meat consumption and, therefore, more grain usage.
The increased world demand for food will come from a global supply that will grow by putting new land into production and improving yields through biotechnology, fertility, irrigation and so forth. As the true global business of production agriculture becomes controlled by ever fewer entities (people, families, companies), we believe we cannot confine our thinking to tradition or locale. We must responsibly plan for growth. All these and more have led us to production in Brazil.
Adam Howell ventured into Brazil for the first time in 1998, the Winter after graduation from Princeton. He explored various states in the country learning of the local agricultural industry, assessing potential for production and searching for availability of land. Adam made the decision that the best, current opportunity was in the state of Bahia and returned to Bahia several times after that. He spent months there learning to speak Portuguese, gaining understanding of and the trust and acceptance of, local officials, real estate agents, equipment dealers, and other farmers all while sleeping on the office floor of an American farmer in the area.
Finally in the spring of 2000, Howell Farms purchased a small tract of land in western Bahia, at first renting it to a local farmer, opening more hectares, and beginning the necessary fertilization program to implement production. In the summer of 2002 we purchased equipment necessary to plant that year’s crop. Adam and Mike Behrendt spent the fall of 2002 planting our first crop of soybeans and sorghum on the farm in Brazil.
During this time they gained valuable experience in purchasing inputs, dealing with local labor, as well as the cultural practices used in crop production in the Brazilian climate. More land was opened in 2003 and planted to corn and soybeans. Adam has learned first-hand, the multi-faceted methods of financing and marketing a Brazilian crop, and developed associations with growers in Bahia and neighboring states during this time.
Crossroads Group International, LLC, an Indiana based private investment corporation was formed in 2006 with Adam and Aaron Howell as managing partners. After careful consideration and planning, CGI purchased 5,368 hectares (13,259 acres) of farmland in western Bahia in March of 2007. This farm, named São Pedro, is approximately 65 kilometers from Luis Eduardo Magalhaes. Luis Eduardo Magalhaes is a rural community of around 45,000 people where the majority of businesses depend on farming.
Aaron Howell is currently living in Luis Eduardo Magalhaes, with his wife, Katy, and is the operation’s manager for CGI. Aaron has been farming with his family at Howell Farms the majority of his life prior to the move to Brazil. He has a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University. He and Katy have done an exceptional job at adapting to Brazil’s customs, culture and way of life. They have both learned to communicate effectively in Portuguese. Aaron has shouldered the immense task of getting CGI/São Pedro into production essentially from nothing but the land. He has recruited a workforce, acquired tools, inputs, supplies and machinery, established working relationships with suppliers and buyers and opened 2500 acres of new ground for production beginning in the crop year 2007/2008.
CGI has also brought on board Cassio Scherer to assist Aaron in the day to day running of São Pedro. Cassio is a native of Brazil and is from the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Cassio and his fiancée, Vanessa, relocated to Luis Eduardo Magalhaes in September, 2007. Active farming is currently under way at the São Pedro farm with an excellent outlook for the cotton and soybeans which are being grown there.
12261 S Co Rd 600 W • Middletown, IN 47356
Phone: (765) 759-6725 or (765) 759-7432 Fax: (765) 759-8986