SAO PAULO/BRASILIA, Feb 3 (Reuters) - A government proposal to increase the tax burden on agricultural exporters in Brazil could threaten the economic viability of soybean production, especially in the top-growing center-west region, growers' association Aprosoja said.
President Dilma Rousseff's cash-strapped government is considering collecting fees for retirement benefits that commodity exporters have previously been exempted from as part of a broader pension reform, a government source told Reuters.
The source said the fee levied on the farm sector - one of few bright spots in Brazil's economies - is being discussed but is considered unlikely to be formally proposed. Brazil is the world's top exporter of soybeans and No. 2 corn exporter.
Aprosoja President Almir Dalpasquale said in a statement published Tuesday that farmers already have a high tax burden on seeds and fertilizers while freight costs in the center-west are double those for farmers in Argentina and the United States.
"Aprosoja Brasil asks the federal government to ... make structural reforms to ensure the future of workers' pensions in this country instead of searching for remedial measures that only harm a strategic sector," he wrote. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer and Reese Ewing in Sao Paulo and Alonso Soto in Brasilia; Editing by Bill Trott)