Brazil farm machinery sales, manufacturing slump amid coronavirus

By Nayara Figueiredo

SAO PAULO, March 26 (Reuters) - The expected growth of farm machinery sales in Brazil for 2020 has been wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic as agricultural trade fairs are canceled and shops are closed, with industry representatives hoping for a rebound in the second semester.

Parts manufacturing has also ground to a halt with U.S.-based Deere & Co (DE) and Brazil's Jacto suspending operations at their Brazilian factories this week.

"We had predicted 10% market growth in 2020 ... now if we hold stable it will mean we've overcome the crisis well," said Renato da Silva, Brazil chief executive for U.S. irrigation and agriculture equipment manufacturer Valmont Industries Inc (VMI) .

Kepler Weber SA, the largest manufacturer of grain storage equipment in Latin America, placed its workers at two factories on leave for 20 days.

Farmers are putting off investment in grains storage, despite the fact that Brazil is not expected to have enough space for a predicted record grain crop this year, said Paulo Bertolini, president of the grain storage working group of industrial equipment association Abimaq.

Even the ability to continue to offer repair and after-sales service for farm equipment already sold is becoming a concern, said Alfredo Miguel Neto, vice president of the National Association of Automotive Vehicle Manufacturers (Anfavea).

Jacto's institutional affairs director Pedro Estev√£o Bastos said that 60% of sales usually happen in the second semester of the year and he hopes the industry will stage a recovery then.

"If there is not a big problem in the market, we hope to make a partial recovery this year," Bastos said. (Reporting by Nayara Figueired; writing by Jake Spring; editing by Richard Pullin)

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