RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As Brazil tries to get back to normal after nine days of protests by truck drivers, retailers, farmers and exporters now sit down to calculate the economic damages caused by demonstrators. The roadblocks that paralyzed the flow of production across Brazil since last week have caused estimated losses of at least R$34 billion to the country’s economy.
“Without feed, 100 million birds have already been slaughtered. In addition to leaving Brazilian families without eggs and without meat, there is a serious risk to public health and the environment. There is no such thing as burying the carcasses of these animals. Since the start of the demonstrations, 300 million liters of milk have been discarded,” said Jose Carlos Martins, President of the Brazilian Chamber of Construction Industry (CBIC).
According to Martins the construction sector, without materials and labor, has already lost more than R$2.9 billion in income since the protests began.
And while the government says it has reached an agreement with the protesters, businesses and industries are still reporting lack of supplies, materials and transportation for their employees, which forces them to close down production and establishments.
The Sugarcane Industry Union (UNICA) stated by Tuesday all the sugarcane mills and suppliers of the State of São Paulo will have their operations completely paralyzed.
“The state, which has 14,000 sugarcane producers, 150 plants and generates more than 310,000 direct jobs, accounts for 60% of Brazil’s sugar and ethanol production. These plants process more than two million tons of cane daily, producing 150 thousand tons of sugar and 100 million liters of ethanol per day,” said the statement issued by Unica.
The associations of animal protein and meat exporters (ABPA, Abiec) said that 90 percent of all meat units around the country have halted productions. Representatives say that twenty-five thousand tons of chicken and pork were not exported during the time, equivalent to a revenue of US$60 million that is no longer generated for the country. In the case of beef, say officials, the nearly 1200 containers shipped per day are currently halted at the port entrance or at plants, unable to be transported to the ships.
The National Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA) says that one billion birds and twenty million pigs are receiving insufficient food. “Critical conditions and the risk of cannibalization have already resulted in the deaths of 64 million adult birds and chicks,” said the president of the CNA, João Martins, in a letter to Security Minister Raul Jungmann.
“The damages caused to the agricultural sector are taking irreparable proportions, from the economic, social and environmental point of view,” concluded the official.
The list of sectors affected by the protest is extensive. The losses in the dairy chain already reached R$1 billion, according to the Brazilian Dairy Association Viva Leite. The figure includes 300 million liters of milk discarded due to the inability of producers to deliver the product.