Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, Thomas Vilsack, visits Brazilian Senator Katia Abreu, Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil’s president.
August 12, 2013
Brasilia (8/5) – The president of the Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil (CNA), Senator Katia Abreu, defended a partnership between Brazil and the United States – the two largest producers of food – to expand the agricultural trade. "The two countries can come together and sell their quality food which is sustainably produced," the Senator said to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack.
Secretary Vilsack led a delegation of 20 government officials and the U.S. Congress, who were on an official visit with the President of CNA. During the nearly two-hour meeting, conducted with the aim of strengthening partnerships between the two nations, Thomas Vilsack stressed the importance of working together. "My message to Brazilian farmers is very simple: we do not see them as competitors, but as partners," said the secretary.
In addition to Vilsack, the Democratic Senator, Debbie Stabenow, who chairs the Agriculture Committee of the U.S. Senate, and Senator Roy Blunt attended the meeting. At that time they also addressed the possible partnership on issues related to genetically modified foods. One of the goals is to bring scientific information, especially to the Europeans, who have resistance to products produced through biotechnology. The positioning influences other countries of Europe, which, according to the president of the CNA, justifies the need to work in harmony. "We need to unite and show scientifically that biotechnology is not harmful," she said.
Citing the need to increase food production in the coming years in order to ensure global supplies -a target set by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – the president of CNA emphasized the role of Brazil and the United States to face this challenge. "We can walk together to meet global demand, producing inexpensive, quality food without harming the environment," she said.
Issues related to logistics were also discussed during the meeting. The president of CNA stated that investments in agricultural technology in Brazil offset "other difficulties," especially those related to the logistics infrastructure deficit. This was also the opinion of Senator Roy Blunt, who had visited the country a decade ago. According to him, the growth of productivity in the agricultural sector "surpassed" the problems of Brazil's infrastructure. He said he was impressed with the extraordinary growth of the Brazilian agriculture in the last decade.
Katia Abreu told the delegation members that Brazilian producers started to produce in areas other than the traditional ones, in order to guarantee the flow of production. The difficulties for transportation directly impact costs. In the Brazilian State of Mato Grosso, which harvests 10 percent of the world crop of soybeans, 50 percent of the cost is with shipping. The logistical problems, according to Senator Abreu, will be solved with the investments already announced by the federal government.
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Senator Debbie Stabenow said the logistics infrastructure of the United States is consolidated as roads, railways and ports were built 100 years ago. She said, however, that these systems need to be rebuilt and that the current situation of the United States is not favorable to this debate. "Roads, railways and ports need to be updated, but now is the time of budget constraints," she said.
In addition to Senator Katia Abreu, the president of the Federation of Agriculture of Mato Grosso do Sul (Famasul), Eduardo Riedel, talked about the growth prospects of meat production and grain to harvest 2022/2023 during the event. The president of the Institute CNA, Moises Gomes, highlighted the investments in the use of low carbon practices and decline in deforestation in Brazil.
Also present at the meeting was the executive director of the Agency for Foreign Agricultural Service, Phil Karsting, the minister counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Todd Chapman, and other representatives of the U.S. government and the U.S. Embassy in Brazil.
–Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock