The largest country in South America, Brazil is an agricultural powerhouse. The country ranks as the world's top exporter of beef, broilers, soybeans, coffee, orange juice and sugar. And despite being locked out of more than half of the world's beef-importing counties, including South Korea and Japan (due to foot-and-mouth disease), Brazil still accounts for almost a third of the world's beef exports.

Brazil boasts a national cattle herd of 183 million head and projections indicate a herd of 230 million head by 2015. The cattle are predominantly Nelore and Brahman with crossbreeding being encouraged with Hereford, Angus and Simmental to improve meat quality and growth rates.

Now, you can get a firsthand look at this agricultural dynamo that is Brazil. BEEF magazine is again teaming up with the Montana State University Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Program to provide another BEEF Study tour of Brazil. The tour is set for Jan. 15-26, 2009, departing the U.S. from New York, NY.

“In today's global marketplace cattlemen need to know what the competition is up to and how they're doing it,” says Clint Peck, Billings, MT, Montana BQA director and a tour escort. “We've developed an itinerary that will give beef producers around the U.S. the best possible look at Brazil's beef systems and assess their strengths and weaknesses as competitors in international markets.”

Tour participants will experience a variety of cattle ranching and feeding operations in Brazil's west-central region, an area of subtropical cattle farming. Highlights include a two-night stay at a working family ranch that caters to guests and tour groups. Among the other stops will be a federal beef cattle research center and a high-tech cattle seedstock operation.

“Beyond learning about the challenges and opportunities facing Brazilian ranchers, we'll interact with local farming families, experiencing their day-to-day lifestyles,” Peck adds. “South Americans are very gracious hosts and fully enjoy their American guests.”

Mixed with the agricultural settings are world-class tourist sites like the Brazilian Pantanal and Bonito Springs — and two nights in Rio de Janiero.

To view an itinerary, go to: beefmagazine.com/south-america-tour/schedule/. The estimated 20-person tour price is $4,995/person (double room). A visa is also required for Brazil entry, estimated at $165 for visa and visa-service fees. The deadline for bookings is Nov. 3.

Send your registration to: Brazilian Liaison, P.O. Box 243, Long Lake, MN 55356-9444. For more information, contact Clint Peck at 406-896-9068 (cpeck@montana.edu); Joe Roybal at 952-851-4669 (jroybal@beef-mag.com); or Renata Stephens at 763-972-8080 (Renata@BrazilianLiaison.com).