December 4, 2019 / 9:23 PM / 8 days ago

Brazil agriculture sees 3% growth in 2020 led by meat exports

BRASILIA, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Brazilian agricultural production will grow 3% in 2020, three times faster than this year, driven by rapidly expanding meat exports and another record grain harvest in the 2019/2020 season, the CNA farm lobby said on Wednesday.

China, Brazil’s biggest market for food exports, this year increased imports of Brazilian chicken, beef and pork due to the outbreak of African swine fever that reduced its hog population and forced the country to buy more animal protein abroad.

Brazilian beef production is expected to grow by 22% in value terms next year as Brazil captures new markets, the CNA said.

Soy, the top crop of Brazilian agribusiness, accounted for 28% of its exports valued at $23.2 billion this year and will continue to grow in 2020.

With no El Niño or La Niña weather phenomena forecast, Brazil will have a bumper grain crop, though CNA officials warned that farmers will face higher costs, such as imported fertilizers and other foreign products due to a weaker currency.

Opening markets for new products, Brazil sold its first fresh fruit to China this year - melons - and also its first dairy products to China and Egypt, the CNA said.

To promote new business in Asia, the CNA opened an office in Shanghai this year and plans to open a second one in Singapore by the end of next year.

The CNA said infrastructure, the main hurdle facing Brazilian farmers who need to transport their products long distances to ports, had improved significantly under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.

The farm lobby said it was working to improve the monitoring and tracing of the origins of cattle, a concern on international markets where consumers are aware that cattle ranching is the main cause of deforestation in the Amazon. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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