South America Calling

Brazilian Customs Strike Enters 12th Day

Brazil's farm customs strike enters its 12th day with grain and meat shipments backed up at port.

Progress has been made in talks between the customs inspector representatives and the government, but union leaders say they will, for now, maintain the industrial action in support of claims for better career structure and higher pay.

"We are close to an agreement, but not there yet," said Roberto Siqueira, communications director at the Brazilian Federal Farm Inspectors Association (Anffa).

Without the certificates issued by the inspectors, many corn and soybean shipments cannot leave port or will encounter problems at destination.

After a productive meeting with Agriculture Ministry and the farm lobby in Congress, Anffa agreed to issue some certificates to ease the backlog at some ports, including Santos.

Meanwhile, late Monday, the Brazilian Meatpackers Association obtained an injunction, forcing inspectors to issue certificates.

According to Siqueira, the strike is 100% legitimate and such injunctions would be easily overturned, but that will not be necessary as an accord is close and the strike will likely draw to a close by the end of the week.

"We have the basis of an agreement and so things should return to normal by next week," said Siqueira.

The chicken and pork industry complain exports are already being severely hampered, while grain exports have already registered problems with corn and soybean shipments.

Anffa officials were scheduled to meet with Agriculture Minister Katia Abreu later today.

Brazilian soybean exports are falling off, but it is in peak corn export season.

Brazil has risen to establish itself as a top 4 exporter of corn over the last decade. Following a bumper second crop, 2015 exports were expected to top the previous record of 26.2 million metric tons with some forecasting shipments as high as 30 mmt.

But Brazil exports have to accelerate dramatically if the record is to be broken. Up to the start of September, Brazil had shipped just 8.8 mmt, according to government figures.

Alastair Stewart can be reached at Alastair.stewart@dtn.com

(ES)

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