Like French champagne, camembert cheese and other famous products, farmers from the southwestern region of Rio Grande do Sul, on the frontier with Argentina and Uruguay, want the cattle beef produced in that region of the southernmost Brazilian state to be sold on the domestic market with a certificate of origin, under an exclusive brand that guarantees to consumers that the beef was produced in the region and following certain quality standards.
"As in the cases with champagne and camembert, producers may protect their brand and nobody else may use it," stated yesterday the agribusiness coordinator at the Rio Grande do Sul branch of the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae), Alessandra Souza.
According to her, the geographic marking of cattle beef is new to Latin America, but has already been adopted by European countries, like Spain, Portugal and France.
The process is currently being analyzed by the National Institute of Industrial Property (Inpi) and Souza expects that in two months the producers involved should receive authorization to use the certification of origin.
Currently, 40 farmers are participating, but the tendency is for the figure to rise, as there are around 1,400 farmers in the region that have an area of 1 million hectares of land.
To receive the certificate of origin, however, the beef will have to be from herds of Hereford or Angus cattle, grazing on specific pasture and soil, and it must follow standard production techniques, including tracing.
One of the farmers involved in the process is Gedeão Pereira, the owner of Estância Santa Maria farm, in the vicinity of Bagé. He breeds Hereford and Angus cattle as well as mixed breed animals. He guarantees that the meat of pure animals is better than that of mixed breeds, but adds that nowadays he cannot get a higher price for it.
The idea of establishing the certificate of origin is to add value to the herds and charge more for the product when selling to slaughterhouses or to the foreign market. "This will be a process to take place in the medium and long term, but we believe that in future there will be market recognition and it will be passed on to producers," stated Alessandra.
The project started being developed a year and a half ago and is the responsibility of the association of farmers of the region, Apropampa, and of the Sebrae.
On Tuesday, August 29, those involved in the project signed a protocol of intentions with slaughterhouse Mercosul, during the International Animal Fair (Expointer), which is taking place in the city of Esteio, in Rio Grande do Sul. According to Souza, at the event the possibility of paying more for the meat of animals with certificates of origin was discussed.
Nowadays the whole of Gedeão Pereira’s produce goes to Mercosul slaughterhouse and almost all of it is exported. At his farm, which covers an area of 11,500 hectares, he raises an average of 13,000 heads of cattle and uses 800 hectares of his land for the cultivation of rice, rotating the crops. He uses an area for the cultivation of rice for two years, and for pasture for another four.
A vet, Pereira has had his farm since 1960. He is very enthusiastic about breeds of British origin and forecasts greater development of the market for their meat. His farm employs 70 people.
Not everybody in Rio Grande do Sul, however, works in the same way. Wilson Brochmann, another large cattle farmer in the state, breeds Limousin cattle, of French origin, on his 1,300- hectare farm in Camaquã, around 150 kilometers away from state capital Porto Alegre. His objective, however, is not to sell pure cattle to slaughterhouses, but to breed the bulls with Nelore cows he has at another four farms in Mato Grosso do Sul, midwestern Brazil.
What he sells is a mixed-breed herd. "This way we can combine the precocious characteristics of Limousin with the rustic characteristics of Nelore," he said.
His company, Agropecuária Maragogipe, should deliver 16,000 heads to slaughterhouse Marfrig up to the end of this year. His cattle are slaughtered, on average, at the age of 24 months, he explained. This age is similar to that reached by Gedeão Pereira.
According to him, around 95% of the cattle beef produced in his herd is exported, and countries in the Middle East and North Africa, like Egypt, are among the main clients. "I know where the beef goes due to halal slaughter," he said. Brochmann has also already exported live Limousin cattle to Lebanon. Apart from Limousin, he also works on breeding Angus with Nelore cattle.
The four Maragogipe farms in Mato Grosso do Sul cover an area of 20,000 hectares. Brochmann breeds on average 40,000 heads of cattle in Brazil and another 8,000 in Uruguay, where they have a property of 6,000 hectares. In Camaquã he also uses around 280 hectares for rice plantation. His farms employ 90 people.
The journalist of Anba traveled at the invitation of the Brazilian Beef Industry and Exporters Association (Abiec).