By Luís Vieira
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (Agriculture.com) – After making the biggest truck strike in 15 years by the end of February and early March, Brazilian truckers are again blocking highways around the country to protest against higher fuel costs and low freight prices combined with poor road infrastructure. A meeting between some leaders of the movement and the government was held on Wednesday. As there was no agreement, truckers started to block roads by the first hour of Thursday
The blockades are an issue of deep concern for farmers and deserve a close market-watch as it affects at least six important agricultural states of Brazil: Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, and Minas Gerais. The states mentioned are big producers of at least one of the following crops: soybeans, corn, rice, coffee, cotton, and wheat.
A trucker strike that has stopped last month demanding lower diesel costs and a freight price fixing has resumed at midnight. Yesterday, trucker unions and government officials did not result in an agreement. Therefore, today truckers block roads in the three soybean producing states, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná, and Mato Grosso, and yet the state of Santa Catarina. BR-163, the federal highway in Mato Grosso and top grain corridor in the country, is again blocked. In Rio Grande do Sul, BR-386, which takes soybeans to the port of Rio Grande have also truckers stopping another colleagues. This strike gets the soybean harvest in the country at its final stretch.
After finishing the soybean and corn harvest, the state of Paraná in southern Brazil has started planting of wheat, according to a state agency. Even though most estimates say that the state will have a smaller surface for the cereal, production would be higher and would reach four million tons – if the yields are confirmed at 44.54 bushels per acre (or 50 bags per hectare).
A survey authored by Brazilian consultancy Trigo & Farinhas says that Uruguay will have a decline of 15.79 percent on the wheat surface this year. Last year, Uruguayan farmers planted 939,000 acres of the cereal. In 2015, they may plant only 790,700 acres. Other forecasts say that the reduction could be even higher.
The corn harvest advanced to 72 percent of the total planted surface in Argentina, according to a new report from the Rosario Board of Trade. Most of the crop is being considered good and the average yields are higher than normal. As farmers prepare wheat planting, costs are the main issue of worry and may force a reduction of planting.
A report from the Rosario Board of Trade reveals that Argentina’s soybean harvest reached 32.5 percent of the total surface. The volume harvested is 25.08 million tons, while the projection for total production is at 58.5 million tons.
The total surface with the oilseed is measured at 49 million acres. After planting, nearly 1.3 million acres were lost because because of rains in some locations. In one week, the soybean harvest advanced 18.7 percentage points because of a better weather.
The state of Paraná’s Department of Agriculture released the first estimates for wheat surface in the state. The area would fall from 3.4 million acres to 3.3 million acres.
An analysis authored by Luiz Pacheco, owner of Trigo & Farinhas consultancy, says that the reduction is related to the high cost of inputs and because prices are not satisfactory for farmers. If the current weather forecasts are accurate, production can yet increase 7 percent with a 10 percent jump on average yields.
The wheat surface in Argentina would fall from 10.3 million acres to 9.3 million acres – a 10 percent decline. The projection is authored by the Rosario Board of Trade and was released three weeks away from the start of planting.
The report says that the sales of seeds has not happened in the top producing regions, including the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, and Cordoba. So far, fertilizer sales have dropped 50 percent compared to the same period of 2014.
A projection revealed by consultant Carlos Cogo puts Brazil’s final corn stocks of the 2014/2015 season at 16.2 million tons. If confirmed, that would be the highest corn stocks in the history of the country. The number is based on the projection of production both crops (summer and winter) at 78.9 million tons, an initial stock of 14.3 million tons and an expected domestic consumption of 55 million tons.
Therefore, the Porto Alegre-based analyst forecasts a downward pressure for the short-term and mid-term, also pushed by a recent dollar devaluation and lower exports. “This prevails in most locations of the country,” explained Cogo.
The Buenos Aires Cereal Exchange released a report today revealing that the corn harvest in Argentina reached 17.1 percent of the total surface. The yields are higher than average in most locations and the volume harvested is 4.6 million tons. The Cereal Exchange still expects a production of 23 million tons in the country. Compared to seven days ago, the corn harvest advanced 5.7 percentage points because of good weather.