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Virginia Tech Students Travel to Brazil for Agribusiness Program

Farm Business Management Update, June - July 2008

By Denise Mainville (, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Marketing, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

In recognition of the ever-increasing importance of international markets and the role of Brazil as a powerhouse in world agriculture, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech is offering a new study abroad option for students. The theme: Agribusiness, Language & Culture in Brazil. This program is Virginia Tech’s only study abroad option that is focused specifically on agriculture, and is also the only one currently active in Brazil.

Currently, five students are participating in this program under the guidance of Denise Mainville, Assistant Professor of Agricultural & Applied Economics. The students are being hosted by the Agribusiness Management Program of Sao Paulo State University in Tupa, Sao Paulo. The participating students are: Rocky Warren of Lodi, Virginia; Rebecca Ashton of King George, Virginia; Kimberly Jukes of Fairfax, Virginia; Chelsea Smith of Beaver Dam, Virginia; and Matthew Wilson of Brooklyn, New York.

During their five weeks in Brazil, the students will be participating in various activities that will increase their exposure to and understanding of agribusiness, language, and culture in Brazil. As of May 27, they have visited and toured a peanut cooperative, a coffee cooperative, a confinement cattle feeding operation, a diversified farm producing rubber, coffee, cassava, and milk, and a small town whose economic mainstay is the production and sale of value-added food products such as smoked meats, preserves, and candies. During each visit, the students learn about the history of the operation, its production and marketing operations, and the challenges that it is faces as well as how it tries to overcome them. Supplementary readings and discussions help to set the individual firms’ situations within the context of the Brazilian agricultural economy and world markets. The students are also participating in a seminar series on Brazilian agribusiness, as well as intensive Portuguese classes.

In addition to the agribusiness and language program, the students are actively learning about Brazilian culture through their day-to-day activities. They are all living either with local families or other Brazilian students, and so are benefiting from direct exposure to Brazil’s warm, open, and active social and family life.

The current study abroad program is the first step towards an ongoing relationship with Sao Paulo State University’s Agribusiness Management program, and plans are being made for ongoing bi-lateral student exchanges as well as the development of collaborations in research and extension. For more information, please contact Denise Mainville (

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