SNA debates the prospects for agriculture and the effects of the crisis on the economy

​Members of the National Academy of Agriculture and the SNA board, among other guests, debated issues of interest to agribusiness

28.05.2020 | 20:59 (UTC -3)
SNA

Members of the National Academy of Agriculture and the SNA board, among other guests, participated in a 'live' to debate issues of interest to agribusiness and analyze the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Brazilian economy.

The online meeting was coordinated by the president of SNA, Antonio Alvarenga, and the president of the National Academy of Agriculture, Caio Carvalho.

“The image of Brazilian agriculture gained extraordinary relevance with the pandemic,” said Carvalho, referring to the country’s export potential and its capacity to supply various markets. On the other hand, he was concerned about the situation of some sectors that were weakened by the effects of the crisis, registering a drop in investments.

When commenting on the government's goals, Carvalho defended improvements in the research sector. “A private effort is needed, alongside the State, for greater research production in the country.”

In an optimistic tone, senator and academic Kátia Abreu highlighted that the “new world order” of agribusiness will be agricultural defense.

“The quality of food will be on the rise, but we need to ensure that agricultural defense also reaches small agribusinesses”, highlighted the senator. “Brazil must organize itself to prioritize this issue, draw up a strategic plan and start demanding the same rigor from other countries that we have when exporting.”

Health and quality

In this context, Márcio Lopes de Freitas, president of the OCB System (Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives), highlighted that cooperatives are prepared to act in defense of health and food quality.

“We are able to work with standards that are adopted in few countries. Cooperatives are also agile enough to deal with a more competitive market”, stated the academic, adding that “OCB is committed to ensuring that cooperatives are also an example of productivity beyond the gate”.

Freitas also highlighted that, this year, more than 20% of Brazilian rural credit is being granted by financial cooperatives.

Regulation and foreign trade

Gustavo Diniz Junqueira, Secretary of Agriculture of the State of São Paulo, stated that agricultural defense must be considered a challenge. For him, the sector needs its own regulation and investments in public-private partnerships. Junqueira also said that “the country needs to work on diversifying markets and paying attention to demands”.

In turn, the Director of SNA, José Augusto de Castro, commented that, in general, exports will continue to support the Brazilian Trade Balance. “Brazil is perfectly meeting international demand.”

Ethanol

Concerned about the sugar and alcohol sector, one of the most affected due to the pandemic, Jacyr da Costa Filho, president of the Superior Council of Agribusiness (Cosag/Fiesp) stated that, despite the good sugarcane harvest, there was a drop of around 40% in demand for ethanol due to social isolation caused by Covid-19.

According to Jacyr, for the sector to stabilize, it is necessary to store fuel so that it can be sold at the appropriate time and not depend on price variations in the market. “Storage is a real guarantee to facilitate financing”, added Kátia Abreu.

According to Costa Filho, there should be no increase in the Economic Intervention Contribution (Cide) on gasoline, as the price of fuel is already recovering, given the significant reduction in supply from Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The President of Cosag also explained that, with the end of social isolation in some European and Asian countries, gasoline consumption is increasing again, as is the price of oil.

Land regularization

Another point highlighted in the virtual meeting was the removal from the agenda of the Bill (PL 2633/20), from the Chamber of Deputies, which establishes criteria for the land regularization of Union properties, including settlements.

The director of SNA, Maria Cecília de Almeida, reinforced that the title is necessary. “We have very serious land problems in the country. We need to end this discrimination in relation to land, which began in the 19th century”.

When defending the right to property, Kátia Abreu said that the Bill could return to the Chamber's agenda. “There are a large number of people in favor of this issue.”

Agronomist and researcher Evaristo de Miranda, general head of Embrapa Territorial, regretted the withdrawal of the PL and said that, “in the case of the Amazon biome, which comprises more than 500 municipalities, it is unsustainable to continue with this situation of illegality that affects around 4.000 small producers responsible for the local economy”.

Rebutting criticisms about deforestation in the Amazon, the researcher reported that, in the last ten years, an average of 29.000 to 31.000 cases were recorded annually, with the majority of them (91%) occurring in small areas. “The deforestation that eventually occurs in large areas is within the rules established by the Forest Code”, explained Miranda.

He believes that the interest of the Vice President of the Republic, Hamilton Mourão, in preserving the Amazon biome, could favor the development of a strategic plan for the region.

Alternatives

When commenting on the effects of the crisis among small producers, the director of SNA, Sylvia Wachsner, emphasized the importance of thinking about the issue

of food security, with production and commercialization alternatives.

“Brazil has the capacity to export differentiated products, such as camu-camu (fruit), and this would also be an outlet for small producers”, stated Sylvia. At the same time, she said, sectors such as ethanol and Crop-Livestock-Forest Integration should be more valued within the scope of the Green Economy and could be part of a new “Brazil Brand” to promote the country.

Fall in GDP

In the macroeconomic context, some debaters estimated that the crisis should cause a drop of 5% to 8% in GDP. Academic and economist Roberto Fendt warned that “the country will have to live with a significant increase in public debt”.

“Crises create opportunities, but they also generate instability in the economic environment. The drop in global growth is 3%. Brazilian debt is expected to reach 140% of GDP, and this debt will be financed through monetization, to reduce pressure, and tax increases, for a period of at least five years”, informed the economist and member of the SNA Fiscal Council , Ney Brito.

On the other hand, he highlighted that the main global economies are already starting to resume their activities. In the case of Brazil, Brito criticized the crisis in the Brazilian political system which, according to him, is being perceived by the international community. “There is a lack of political leadership in the country”, he highlighted.

Proposals for the government

By drawing attention to the obstacles of the current government, the vice-president of the SNA, Maurílio Biagi Filho, proposed to the institution the formation of a working group to develop a Communication plan to be delivered to the Presidency of the Republic.

According to Biagi, the government needs to improve its way of expressing itself to society. The idea gained the support of the vice-president of the SNA, Osaná Sócrates de Almeida.

The president of the OCB System defended the development of a medium and long-term agricultural planning plan, including issues of interest such as agricultural financing. “And we also need to communicate this as a country project”, concluded Freitas.

Attendances

Former ministers Márcio Fortes de Almeida and Roberto Rodrigues also participated in the meeting; the president of the Commercial Association of Rio de Janeiro (ACRJ), Angela Costa; the president of Sebrae-SP, Tirso de Salles Meirelles; the vice-presidents of SNA, Hélio Sirimarco and Tito Ryff; the directors of the institution Alberto Figueiredo, Antonio Freitas, Frederico Grechi, Francisco Villela, Márcio Sette Fortes, Checker Jabour Checker, Jorge Ávila, Marcos Fava Neves, Cláudio Contador, Hélio Meireles, Thomás Tosta de Sá, Roberto Ticoulat, Túlio Arvelo Duran, Paulo Protásio and Claudine Bichara Oliveira; economist Cláudio Pereira and lawyer Antenor Barros Leal.

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