Brazil banks on record soybean harvest in 2013-2014

Brazil, the world's second-largest soybean producer, is expecting a record harvest this year as well as in 2014, according to monthly official estimates released Friday.

The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) said this year's soybean output should reach a record 81.3 million tons, up 23.8 percent over the previous year.

For 2014, production is expected to soar to 86.3 million.

The total grain and oilseed output in 2013 should reach 186.8 million tons, less than previous estimates and 15.4 percent less than in the previous year.

Corn production this year should reach a record 80.5 million tons while rice output should total 11.6 million tons.

Meanwhile government officials said China plans to facilitate imports of Brazilian corn while boosting its purchases of soybeans from this country.

Earlier this week the two countries signed an agreement easing the huge Chinese market's access to Brazilian corn.

Brazil "can become one of China's main corn suppliers," said the agriculture ministry. Sales could reach 10 million tons for a value of $1.8 billion in the long term.

China, already the top buyer of Brazilian soybeans -- also plans to boost imports, officials said.

The announcement was made on the sidelines of bilateral talks held in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

Brazil is the world's fifth agricultural power and could soon displace the United States as the top soybean producer.

China meanwhile also pledged to send health inspectors to Brazil as soon as possible to look into a lifting of an embargo imposed last September over a two-year case of mad cow disease discovered in the southern state of Parana.

Six countries suspended their imports of Brazilian beef at the time, with scientists believing the disease was caused by using infected parts of cattle to make feed for other cattle.

Brazilian officials insisted the Parana case poses no risk to public health or to animal hygiene, which has since been confirmed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Moscow has since eased its restrictions, allowing six Brazilian slaughterhouses to resume shipments to Russia on October 11.

China has been Brazil's top trading partner since 2009 with their bilateral trade reaching $75.4 billion last year, a nearly twentyfold increase over a decade ago.