Brazil Freight Policy Signed into Law
Brazil's President Michel Temer signed into law a bill authorizing the government to set minimum truck freight prices, drawing criticism from farm groups who said the measures would drive up costs for food.
According to a decision published in the official gazette on Thursday, Temer only vetoed one provision that would have pardoned truckers from paying fines for their role in staging an 11-day strike in May. The stoppage crippled Brazil's roads, hampering deliveries of everything from fuel to grains.
The new law requires truck freight prices to be equal to, or above, minimum prices set by Brazil's national transport agency ANTT. Minimum prices will be published twice a year, by Jan. 20 and July 20.
In a statement on Thursday, oilseeds crushers association Abiove - whose members include big grain handlers like Cargill Inc, Archer Daniels Midland, Louis Dreyfus Corp and Bunge - called the law "backward" for reinstating policies that Brazil had relinquished in the 1990s.
Brazil's powerful farm lobby group CNA said in a statement following the president's signature that it had filed a new petition at the Supreme Court to challenge the constitutionality of the law.
CNA said a recent study showed the policy would cause the price of basic foodstuffs like meat, rice, beans and eggs to increase by an average of 12 percent.
($1 = 3.8179 reais)
(Reporting by José Roberto Gomes, Leonardo Goy and Ana Mano Writing by Ana Mano, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)