The Bella Vita luxury condominium tower rises 20 stories over the boomtown of Luís Eduardo Magalhães in northeastern Brazil. Its private movie theater and helipad are symbols of how far this dusty farming community has come since it was founded just 18 years ago.
Local soybean producers shell out upwards of a half-million U.S. dollars to live in the complex. Nearby farm equipment sellers, car dealerships and construction supply stores are bustling too.
Meanwhile, nearly 5,000 miles to the north in Boone, Iowa, farmers are hunkering down. At a recent agriculture trade show here, Iowa corn and soybean grower Steve Sheppard reflected the cautious mood.
"I'm not buying any machinery, I'm not spending any money," Sheppard said.
Two countries. Same business. Two very different fates. The reason: China.
A growing trade war between the United States and China is re-ordering the global grains business. In response to Trump administration tariffs on Chinese goods, Beijing this year imposed levies on U.S. agricultural products. Among them was a 25 percent tariff on soybeans, the single most valuable U.S. farm export. U.S. growers sold $12 billion worth to China last year alone.
The fallout has been quick. China, the world's largest importer of soybeans, has scaled back purchases of U.S. grain to feed its massive hog herd.
It is turning instead to Brazil, which has ridden the wave of Chinese demand for two decades to become a global agricultural powerhouse. Brazilian soybean exports to the Asian country jumped 22 percent by value between January and September, compared to the same period a year ago.
Brazilian producers are not only selling more grain, their soy is fetching $2.83 more per bushel than beans from the United States, up from a premium of just $0.60 a year ago, thanks to stepped up Chinese purchases.
Prices for U.S. soybeans, meanwhile, recently sunk to decade lows that farmers say are below the cost of production. The slump has made the agricultural sector a drag on an otherwise healthy U.S. economy. The Trump administration said in July it would spend up to $12 billion in taxpayer funds to help U.S. farmers offset trade-related losses, although the aid package could shrink.
Many American farmers, overwhelmingly conservative voters who helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency, are standing by their man. They believe he will eventually negotiate a better trade deal with China, whose appetite for soybeans is so vast that it cannot completely wean itself off U.S. grain.
But for the time being, Trump trade policies are handing precious market share, money and momentum to Brazil, the United States' most formidable agricultural competitor. Some fear the lost ground will be hard to reclaim.
"Bad news on tariffs in the U.S. is good news for them," Robert Crain, general manager for the Americas for equipment dealer AGCO Corp, said about Brazilian farmers in an interview at the Iowa show.