March 25, 2020 / 8:55 PM / 3 days ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil farm lobby warns of labor, transport hurdles from coronavirus

(Adds comments by Brazil farm lobby chief)

SAO PAULO, March 25 (Reuters) - Brazilian farm lobby CNA has warned the government that grain, coffee and sugarcane growers in the South American agricultural powerhouse face operational hurdles due to the coronavirus epidemic.

In an interview on Wednesday, CNA Superintendent Bruno Lucchi said challenges include hiring freight, harvest labor and maintenance of farm equipment as cities and states restrict movement to prevent the virus from spreading.

CNA says that social isolation and widespread lockdowns to avoid contagion have already taken a toll on producers of perishables like fruit, vegetables, milk and flowers.

Anticipating that these farmers will lose revenue while costs remain high, the group called on the government to extend the deadline for debt repayments to help producers weather the storm, Lucchi said.

Grain growers are in a better position, Lucchi said, as prices are historically high and those commodities can be stored longer.

Yet they still face potential operating problems, including challenges hiring truck drivers to haul crops and a scarcity of spare parts for farm equipment, as stores that supply them cannot open amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Reporting by Roberto Samora in Sao Paulo Writing by Ana Mano Editing by Brad Haynes and Matthew Lewis)

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