chapter  4
13 Pages

Encounters with the Brazilian Soybean Boom

Transnational farmers and the Cerrado
ByAndrew Ofstehage

The production of soybean in South America covers 57 million hectares (Oliveira and Hecht, 2016). For critics it is an exemplar of the corporate food regime (McMichael, 2010) and the great transformation of rural South America (Gudynas, 2008), while its proponents call large-scale soya a model of how to feed a growing world population (Economist, 2010). Often lost in abstract narratives of the soy boom arc, however, is the situated reality of soy growers and their production. Reflections on the neo-extractivist governments of South America and transnational corporations place soy production within a set of social, economic, and cultural transformations, but by focusing on capital and mechanisms of capital, they mask the improvisation and creativity that contest and enable flows of capital, thus implicitly accepting capital as the source of life, rather than a parasite of life (Braun, 2015; Paredes, Sherwood, and Arce, 2015).