SÃO PAULO – Brazil reached an agreement to end a truck drivers’ strike, but not before the strike paralyzed major sectors of the Brazilian economy and resulted in the loss of perishable goods such as meat and poultry, closed schools and gas stations and slowed public transportation.
On May 27, Brazilian President Michel Temer said in a televised address that he had signed decrees addressing the demands of truck drivers who were protesting rising fuel prices. One decree reduced the price of diesel to 46 cents per liter. Temer said the government would implement monthly adjustments in fuel prices after 60 days.
The agreement couldn’t come soon enough for beef, pork and poultry processors in Brazil. The Brazilian Beef Exporters Association (ABIEC) reported on May 23 that 25,000 tons of poultry and pork valued at $60 million were impacted by the strike and road blockades. The strike also stopped per-day shipments of 1,200 containers of beef.
ABIEC said more than 85,000 employees in meat processing and related industries were unable to work, and several suppliers of inputs also were impacted. The Brazilian Association of Animal Proteins (ABPA) found that transport of animal feed ingredients, such as corn and soy, was blocked at more than 300 locations in 22 states in Brazil.
“Since the strike began, there are almost 70 million dead birds,” ABPA said in a statement on May 28. “Close volumes of 120,000 tonnes of chicken and pork have ceased to be exported since the start of the strike.
“Dead animals are put into composts on their own properties, but the system is already at the limit. Environmental and public health risks are increasing.
“About 1 billion birds and 20 million pigs are still at risk of dying as a direct consequence of the blockades.”
Local media reports state it is unclear when industries will return to normal. A spokesman for the truck drivers’ union that launched the protests, said it has recommended an end to the strike but not all of the drivers approve of the agreement.