Representatives from the British sheep breeding sector attended the ExpoInter Show in Brazil 24-31 August 2019 considered to be the largest livestock show in Latin America with 370,000 visitors.
Building on the work done last year at the event to pave the way for exports to Brazil of breeding sheep and germplasm, delegates were drawn from pedigree and commercial flocks, breeding companies and the National Sheep Association (NSA) with the aim of taking advantage of EHCs (Export Health Certificates) now in place for the export of ovine semen and embryos to Brazil.
Attending the event through grant support via the Department of International Trade (DIT) were Andrew Hambleton (AB Europe), Bryan Griffiths (Chairman, NSA) with his wife Liz, Kevin McCarthy (Ballycreelly Hampshires), Edward Adamson (UK Sheep Genetics & NSA NI Development Officer) & Richard Saunders (British Livestock Genetics Consortium).
Based at the British House ‘Casa Britânica’ located within the Expointer showground, meetings were held with ARCO (their NSA), MAPA (their Defra), EMBRAPA (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation - part of their Ministry) and FARSUL/SENAR/Casa Rural (Agriculture Federation for Rural Development in the Porto Alegre region of Rio Grande do Sul). A highlight of the event was the Anglo-Brazilian Sheep Seminar which acted as an important forum for discussion and exchange of knowledge.
As the most southerly of Brazil’s states - bordering both Uruguay & Argentina - Rio Grande do Sul (pop. 11 million) benefits from a climate ideally suited to growing grass with its pasture-based system well suited to British breeds of cattle and sheep. The most dominant native cattle breeds are Angus, Hereford & North Devon with continentals led by Charolais, Limousin, Simmental then Blonde.
As for sheep, the Texel & Corriedale breeds lead; thereafter Hampshire, Suffolk, Poll Dorset & Romney Marsh follow. At present, the beef price is low compared to the UK at £2.25 per kilo deadweight, whilst lamb is buoyant at £4.00 per kilo deadweight, on a par with the UK. Hence demand for sheep genetics is strong.
The State of Rio Grande do Sul alone is responsible for 44% of Brazil’s agricultural production which includes soya bean and rice as well as livestock. State support is being given to small farmers with diversification encouraged – for example into planting olive trees for oil. Within a 900 mile radius of Rio Grande do Sul (incorporating parts of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) is a population of 150 million representng 70% of South America’s GDP. Agriculture in Brazil accounts for around 8% of the country’s GDP (UK = 0.6%) rising to around 25% if you include Agribusiness as a whole.
Contacts made at the previous expo were cemented with ready demand found for importing sheep embryos and semen from the UK in particular for the Hampshire, Poll Dorset & Suffolk breeds. An Inward Mission is planned for May 2020 to bring Brazilian breeders to the UK to select stock. It should be noted that the EHC stipulates that flocks must be scrapie monitored for 7 years in addition to fulfilling other health protocols.
The group was ably assisted by the Honorary Consul, Denise Pellin, who was responsible for a full and varied programme, in addition to Martin Whalley (Deputy Consul General, Sao Paolo) & Pedro Mendes (Strategic Accounts Manager AgriTech, DIT).