Brazil recently elected a new president, Jair Bolsonaro. Although he has given worrying statements related to the environment, Brazil’s agricultural organisations point to the fact that capable people have been appointed to deal with the sector’s challenges.
Some of main agribusiness leaders have good expectations regarding the administration of the newly elected Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro. Mr Bolsonaro got worldwide media coverage due to unsettling statements during the electoral campaign.
Shirts of presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro for sale during the election time in São Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Marcos Assis | Dreamstime
Nevertheless, Brazil’s pig organisations put trust in the fact that qualified, technically well-informed people have been appointed for both the ministries of agriculture and environment. They will have to respond to the various challenges of those sectors in Brazil.
Mr Bolsonaro appointed Tereza Cristina to be the next agricultural minister. She used to be the leader of an agribusiness group in Brazil’s Congress and used to be a farmer herself. Mr Bolsonaro’s government will begin on January 1.
Marcelo Lopes, president, Brazilian Pig Producers Association (ABCS)
Marcelo Lopes. Photo: Daniel Azevedo Duarte
As a representative of the pig farmers, what do you expect from the new government with regard to foreign trade?
“We have great prospects for expanding our exports, especially due to the US-China trade war, but in other markets as well. Brazilian chicken has managed to enter Mexico, pork is next.
“But we have to do our homework. Regarding Classical Swine Fever, we need to have the entire national territory free of vaccination and further improve sanitary control, which is already excellent, especially in the North East. With regard to animal welfare and the use of antibiotics, we need to work together with the ministry. On welfare, for example, we have a set of new requirements practically ready, which were made with 6 hands. New plants should adopt them before and the others have different deadlines and can reach 25 years for adaptation. It will be a great work of awareness. And it will be repeated on the issue of antibiotics.
Are you worried about potential difficulties as a result of the new president?
“The president-elect was campaigning and often under a lot of pressure. From what I have seen and read, he is working consistently, nominated good technical people and avoided political appointments. That is a breakthrough and we are moving.
“You have to have good judgement on the environmental issue in a way that does not harm producers nor sustainability. He will take possession, see the reality and make connections because nobody works alone.
“The new agriculture minister, Tereza Cristina, a producer, knows the sector’s needs and did a great job in parliament. We hope she does the same as minister. I’m very optimistic.”
Francisco Turra, president, Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA)
Francisco Turra. Photo: ABPA
What is your expectation about foreign trade promotion during Mr Bolsonaro’s government?
“He promised us a lot of openness to discuss logistics and foreign trade. Brazil is a food producer and the world wants to see Brazil in good condition. That is why we need more agreements, greater openness, less bureaucracy, breaking outdated regulatory frameworks. That is fundamental. Demands in the world will be increasing and we need to serve them with agility.
“As for statements, everything must be weighed. Our embassies should listen in order to maintain harmony and achieve bi- or multilateral agreements. Our export means employment and development for the population. The environment is very important and we have shown that a balance with production is possible. Producers are very interested in protecting the environment, contrary to what is being propagated.”
What is your opinion about the president-elect’s declarations regarding environmental guidelines?
“Declarations given with ambiguous meanings about the environment have been condemned by international observers and that will bring losses to the sector. I have no doubt, however, that Mr Bolsonaro’s team will be competent to guide him. It is one thing to be a candidate and another to have an obligation to choose the best path with technical and diplomatic support.
“The environmental issue is strongly influenced by alarmist non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Brazil and some points are very outdated and unrealistic. On a daily basis we check that we produce with sustainability.”