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What the Brazilian impeachment could mean to you

What the Brazilian impeachment could mean to you
A Brazilian farmer’s view on his government’s next steps.

What the Brazilians-- with producers nearly unanimous, nationwide-- wanted was new elections. What they got was impeachment of the Brazilian president and a new, interim government for the next 180 days.

I jotted down some of my initial thoughts on what the new Brazilian administration might mean to you in my most recent blog. But I figured it might be a good idea to check in with others on the topic as well. Glauber Silveira, head of Brazil’s national soybean association and host of an agriculture TV program, told me his thoughts.

Brazilian Ag Minister Blairo Maggi, he says, knows well how small and fragile is this chance to move away from far leftist practices impacting the business of agriculture. After all, 180 days can be over in the blink of an eye, and even the impeachment of President Rousseff was approved with a margin of just five votes (from a total of 513 deputies.) But Maggi also points to Argentina, where recent normal elections replaced a radical populist regime with something more middle of the road. There, the new government managed to repeal the export taxes on wheat and corn, and at least lower those on soybeans during its first week.

The Argentine example

Silveira believes the new ag minister knows “we can’t fix everything all at once, but we can put the country on the right path, and that’s what this new provisional government is proposing.”

Of course, says Silveira, Brazilian farmers are already starting the 180-day clock from behind. “In the final days before President Dilma was relieved (for six months during impeachment hearings) some ministries and government agencies issued decrees and rules that are truly absurd, whether on the question of large landholding, or on the issues of native or environmental reserves. That hurt those in Brazil who produce, and one of the first things Minister Maggi did was to meet with (interim) President Temer to get those rules and decrees annulled.”

Cutting costs, red tape

“Minister Blairo Maggi also said that reduction of production costs will be one of his main priorities, so it’ll be important to… cut the bureaucracy that keeps Brazil from producing its riches. We need greater competitiveness in fertilizers and greater flexibility in approving new molecules for chemicals. But logistics is our main problem, and resolving that, too, suffers from Brazilian bureaucracy.”

He also cited Maggi’s awareness that Brazil will have to quickly ease any burdens on the poultry sector getting access to Brazilian corn stocks quickly. Right now, Silveira says, as many as five separate ministries need to sign off on such an act even as corn costs soar.

What do Brazilian farmers want?

“What we really wish for,” says Silveira, “is that our country gets on the right track, and that the provisional government manages to get things done for Brazil to grow. If that doesn’t happen, in the next six months, we run a risk that no Brazilian deserves as this point—which would be having Dilma Rousseff as our president again.”

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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