“Señor Bonner…I have to tell you. I won’t be able to work here any more.”
Francisco, who has been our ranch foreman, quit. He explained why:
“There’s no money in cattle now. So my father sold our ranch over in Angustura. We’re buying a big farm in Bolivia. It’s about 7,500 acres. Very rich. And with lots of water. It’s not in the high part of the country. It’s out on the eastern plain, where the Amazon begins.
“The place we’re getting is practically virgin land. It was farmed many years ago, and then abandoned. I don’t know why. And we’re going to plant soybeans. You just stick the seeds in the ground; three months later you have a crop you can market. And with prices this high, we can’t resist.
“Farming soybeans is about the easiest farming there is. You only have to go out to the farm a couple of times. And you don’t need any labor – it’s all mechanized. Labor is cheap in Bolivia, but it’s still a lot easier when you don’t have to deal with farm labor. And now with these genetically modified plants, it makes it easy to kill the weeds. We just spray herbicide from the air; it kills everything but the soybeans, because they’ve been modified to resist it.
“We’re going to plant about 1,000 acres this spring. Then, we’ll add another 1,000 next year. Some of the land is still covered by jungle. It’s just the opposite of here. Here it never rains. There, they get plenty of rain. We would plant more land, but the Bolivian government has banned clearing any more jungle. At least, there’s some restriction on it.
“And in Bolivia, the government lets you sell your crop on the world market, without taking half of it. [He was referring to the Argentine government’s 49% tax on soy exports].
“Everybody is planting soybeans. But I’m not worried about the price going down. It can fall in half, and we’d still make money.”
Markets and Money