Farmers in rural parts of Brazil are warning they will be left in debt if the country doesn’t move quickly to curb the corn, soybeans and wheat exports.
The country is exporting more than $100bn worth of grain, mostly from the southern state of Bahia.
The US and Europe are also sending grain to Brazil and importing rice and other commodities, but the country has been slow to address the problem.
On Thursday, the Brazilian government said it was considering measures to stop the import of food from US and EU countries.
The government said there are 2,600 small-scale farmers who rely on these crops, but they are worried that the current situation could worsen.
In a statement on Thursday, agriculture minister Alexandre dos Santos said farmers who have a good income will be able to survive on less than $150 a month.
“We need to invest more in our agricultural production and reduce the price of imports.
We need to ensure the safety of these farmers,” he said.”
Our goal is to reduce the import price to around $50 a month.”
But the farm minister’s statement has raised doubts among farmers, who fear that they could be left with the bill for the importation of grain if they don’t stop exporting.
“The farmers have already received the money.
They can go back to farming, but will they?” said Jose Pascual, a farmer in Paraiba.”
They are paying a lot of money for the grain and the land.
They will be paying a huge sum for the imports, and then the debts will increase.
I think it is just a shame.”‘
A good farmer’As for the soybeans, the farm department is considering selling some of them, but some are reluctant to sell, said Pedro Pernambuia, the deputy director of the Brazilian agri-business federation, INEF.
“I am not sure we can do it,” he told Al Jazeera.
“We need a good farmer, a good person, to do it.”
Brazil has imported nearly $1.5bn worth the commodities since the start of the year.
The Brazilian government has not released the amount of the crop it has already exported, which is worth about $400m.
The situation is complicated by the fact that Brazil is importing more grain from the US and from the EU than it is exporting, said Pernumbuia.
But the government says it is looking to ease restrictions on US imports, as long as the trade restrictions do not go beyond 10% of the total value of the crops, which would be a level similar to that of the EU.
“It would be nice to have an agreement with the US to be able [to export] rice and wheat,” Pernunduia said.
“But that is not possible, as the [US] government does not want to go beyond the 10%.”
We are very close to a solution with the United States,” he added.
But with Brazil in such a delicate economic position, it is not clear that the trade barriers will be lifted until the crisis is resolved.