NFU Brazil Trip

UK and Brazilian livestock leaders have met to discuss how Brazilian farming can fill the growing gap between global food production and consumption.

NFU vice president Paul Temple met the president of the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture (CNA) and Livestock during a recent high-level visit to Brazil organised by the International Agri-Technology Centre.

Senator Katia Abreu, the first female president of the CNA, said she recognised the fear created by the sheer scale of Brazil's production but emphasised the important role the country will play in future global food security. She added that Brazilian producers are frustrated by what they perceive to be unwanted barriers to markets.

"When it comes to frustration, I pointed out that European, and in particular UK, producers share similar frustrations, but also face the added costs of production associated with the requirements for cattle ID and traceability which are fundamental to gaining market access," said Temple.

"European producers are not necessarily fearful of trade with Brazil, but we do expect Brazilian producers to be subject to the same rules and traceability standards as we are, and which continue to be ramped up with the proposed introduction of schemes like EID for sheep."

Brazil has around 180 million head of cattle, and Senator Abreu acknowledged that bringing in cattle traceability across the board would be a hugely expensive process.

"She did, however, make clear that there was 71 million hectares of land available for agricultural cropping and production, none of which compromised a square foot of rainforest, and that figure did not include the 176 million hectares of land already in conservation areas," said Temple.

He added that a visit to Embrapa, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, which is linked to their ministry for agriculture, demonstrated the importance that the Brazilian government places on farming.

"It employs over 8,000 people and has a budget of $650m, with the aim of finding practical solutions for the sustainable development of Brazilian agribusiness through knowledge and technology generation and transfer. Compare that to our situation, where funding for agri R&D continues to slide year-on-year," he said.

The trip also included meetings with the British embassy on biofuels and climate change, and visits to Brazil's Institute of Food Technology and the 3,825ha agricultural satellite site of Sao Paulo University.

"The visit was an excellent opportunity to explore the benefit of partnership working in key areas of agri-technology, and really highlighted the good work being done by the IATC, based at Stoneleigh Park," Temple concluded.

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