- Vilsack sees Brazil's producers as "partners," not "competitors."
- Leaders discuss possible partnership to deal with resistance to biotech food.
TOP leaders from two of the largest producers of food — the U.S. and Brazil — met last week to highlight the need to work together as well as expand agricultural trade.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack led a delegation of 20 government officials and members of Congress, including Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.).
During a nearly two-hour meeting with Sen. Katia Abreu, president of the Confederation of Agriculture & Livestock of Brazil (CNA), Vilsack stressed the importance of working together.
"My message to Brazilian farmers is very simple: We do not see them as competitors but as partners," he said.
Abreu added that there are additional opportunities for the countries to come together to sell quality, sustainably produced food.
During the meetings, the leaders also addressed a possible partnership on issues related to genetically modified foods. One of the goals is to emphasize scientific information, especially for Europeans, who have been resistant to products produced through biotechnology. The positioning influences other countries of Europe, which, according to Abreu, justifies the need to work "in harmony."
"We need to unite and show scientifically that biotechnology is not harmful," she said.
Citing the need to increase food production in the coming years in order to ensure global supplies — a target set by the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization — Abreu emphasized the role of Brazil and the U.S. to rise to this challenge.
"We can walk together to meet global demand, producing inexpensive, quality food without harming the environment," she said.
In addition to Abreu, Eduardo Riedel, president of the Federation of Agriculture of Mato Grosso do Sul (Famasul), talked about the growth prospects of meat production and grain to harvest during the event, while Moises Gomes, president of the Institute CNA, highlighted investments in the use of low-carbon practices and the decline in deforestation in Brazil.
Also present at the meeting was Phil Karsting, executive director of the Agency for Foreign Agricultural Service; Todd Chapman, minister counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil, and other representatives of the embassy and the U.S. government.