China has dramatically increased its economic influence in Latin America. The United States is still the region’s largest investor, but China is now in second place and gaining a larger market share. In 2009, for example, China loaned a Brazilian oil company $10 billion and built a cellphone factory in Venezuela. The next year, China signed a $10 billion deal for the construction of railroads in Argentina. And in March, Ecuador agreed to auction off one-third of the country's Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies.
Iowa farmer Brent Hayes looks out over 1,700 acres of winter wheat he planted last October on flood-damaged land near the Missouri River. The foot-high crop was used to help replenish the soil for corn.