The Brazilian cattle herd is geared up for further expansion â€“ to reach nearly 178 million head by early 2007 â€“ due to higher investments in animal genetics (particularly through cross breeding programs) and improved pasture and management practices, according to a recent report by the United States Department of Agricultureâ€™s (USDAâ€™s) Foreign Agricultural Service.
The expanding herd and lift in productivity will boost beef production, which is expected to ramp up by 5% in 2006, in response to strong domestic and export demand. Exports are predicted to rise by 15% by 2007 on 2005 levels, to 2.2 million tonnes cwe, due to aggressive and strategic marketing campaigns, competitive export prices and continued opportunities in the wake of BSE outbreaks in beef exporting countries.
Major target export markets for Brazil in 2006 are likely to be China, the Middle East, Russia and Chile, although the EU is expected to remain the largest destination for Brazilian beef.
However, a number of constraints may temper the projected increase in beef production over the short term, including: the continued appreciation of the Brazilian real; higher domestic interest rates (currently 19%); uncertainties and reduced consumer confidence associated with the current political crisis; funding deficiencies for government sanitary and inspection programs; lower cattle prices; and lower economic growth in 2006 (compared to 2005).
The USDA report also discussed the current status of the Brazilian System of Identification and Certification of Bovine and Buffalo Origin (SISBOV), which was officially announced in 2002. The Animal Health Department of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture estimates there are currently over 50 million animals in the program, which is approximately 30% of Brazilâ€™s total cattle herd.
Progress appears to have been made with eradicating foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Brazil. An estimated 84% of the countryâ€™s cattle herd is FMD-free with vaccination. The government expects the country to be entirely free of FMD by the end of 2006.