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March 31, 2020

Brazilian Minister Declares Agribusiness Essential Services

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

In an effort to minimize the damage to the agricultural sector from Covid-19 crisis, the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Tereza Cristina, declared last Friday that gas stations, restaurants, and truck stops along the nation's highways are essential services for the transport of food and agricultural inputs. The Minister made the declaration after many truck drivers complained that they had to stop working because they couldn't be assured of the basic services along the highways.

In addition, the Minister also declared that ports, railroads, municipalities, state and federal highways are essential for the distribution of food and agricultural inputs. Also declared essential is the public transportation needed for workers involved in agribusiness, the transportation of cargo, the production, distribution, and commercialization of fuels and their derivatives.

The Minister also declared essential agricultural processors, input manufactures such as fertilizers, chemicals, seeds, animal rations as well as the manufacture and sale of agricultural equipment and parts.

The Minister was trying to clear up confusing and conflicting regulations between local, state, and federal agencies. There were isolated concerns last week in two cities of Mato Grosso that impacted the agricultural sector.

In the city of Canarana, which is located in eastern Mato Grosso, the city prohibited grain trucks from entering or leaving the city, but that has been resolved and things appear to be functioning basically normally. In the city of Rondonopolis, which is a major hub of agribusiness in Mato Grosso, the mayor ordered industries to close including three soybean crushing plants and Latin America's largest grain terminal that ships grain out of Mato Grosso to the Port of Santos via the Rumo Railroad. As of this writing, agricultural and city officials are working to resolve that impasse.

Research conducted by the firm NYC&Logistica indicated that truck traffic in Brazil earlier last week declined by 26%. The amount of trucks hauling grain declined by 11%.

Additionally, the National Transport Confederation (CNT) asked the Brazilian Supreme Court late last week to step in a bar local or state authorities from ordering the closing of any local or state borders in connection with the Covid-19 crisis.