According to the vice president of the Federation of Agriculture in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (Farsul), Hermes Ribeiro, over the last two months some 32,000 jobs disappeared in the farm sector because of the crisis it is going through.
He said the problem was high production costs and low revenue for produce aggravated this year by a drought that devastated southern Brazil. Ribeiro pointed out that the farm sector employees 40% of Brazil’s workforce.
The National Farm Confederation (Confederação da Agricultura e Pecuária do Brasil) (CNA), provides the numbers.
According to the CNA, it costs US$ 16 to produce a sack of wheat in Brazil, but the farmer only gets half that (US$ 7.59).
Losses for cotton and rice are slightly lower at around 40%. The production costs of soybeans are 12.5% more than the market price, and for corn the difference is 8.16%.
Ribeiro says the result is generalized indebtedness compounded by a cash shortfall, which makes it very difficult for farmers to pay off their debts.
Ribeiro is in Brasília as part of a farmer demonstration known as the Tractor Traffic Jam (Tratoraço). Disgruntled farmers have parked some 2,000 tractors on the mall (Esplanada dos Ministérios) in the heart of Brasília.
Ribeiro says their main demand is for an extension of loan payments. They also want new credit totalling US$ 2.1 billion (5 billion reais) and a reduction in taxes on farm equipment and machinery.
Ribeiro says that because of taxes, equipment and machinery made in Brazil cost 45% more in Brazil than it does in Uruguay or Argentina.
Minister of Agriculture, Roberto Rodrigues, says the farmers are really facing a crisis in important sectors. He declared that he is negotiating with the economic area of the government to find ways to reduce losses in the farm sector.
ABr – www.radiobras.gov.br