Brazil's new ag minister to develop USDA-like agency

Carlos Favaro takes office today
calendar icon 2 January 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Brazil's incoming agriculture minister plans to turn the national supply and statistics agency Conab into a body akin to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Reuters reported after speaking with the minister by phone on Friday. 

Carlos Favaro, who will take office on Monday, also said the government will resume stockpiling food staples like corn, rice and beans to fight hunger in Brazil, a major food exporter, using Conab as the agency to execute that policy.

Favaro said overhauling Conab is a priority. That means turning it into "an information agency" that will put out crucial data to guide market agents and government actions going forward.

In a short period of time, he said, Conab would begin releasing reports on crop inventories, forward sales, weather forecasts and export flow data, which it currently does not.

"It is important for the industry to know how much grain is available," he said citing lack of information on export flows and existing grain stocks. "Conab reports are for crop forecasts only."

Regarding the plan to resume stocking up on corn, rice and beans, Favaro noted the government's reserves were depleted, representing a threat to food security.

"It is shameful that Brazil is a record food producer while people are queuing up to buy bones and going hungry," he said.

Shoring up the government's food stocks, supporting crop sales and improving Brazil's infrastructure capabilities will also help grain processors in times of scare supplies, he added.

Brazil is a mass producer of commodities like soybeans and corn, which are partly exported and partly processed internally to make livestock feed.

Under Favaro's plan, the new government will also be able to at least double the budget for agriculture research agency Embrapa.

He said Embrapa's research priorities will include developing technologies to reduce on-farm carbon emissions and new fertilizer offerings to reduce Brazil's import dependence, among others.

($1 = 5.2860 reais)

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