UPDATE 2-Brazil police launch new agribusiness inspection probes

(Adds Minerva, other probe targets)

SAO PAULO, May 16 (Reuters) - Brazilian federal police on Tuesday opened two separate investigations into whether certain food companies improperly received favorable treatment from the country's Agriculture Ministry, the latest probe ensnaring the country's agribusiness sector.

The probes into whether inspection procedures were eased in favor of unspecified meatpacking, dairy and other food companies come two months after sector leaders JBS SA and BRF SA were rocked by allegations of alleged corruption and bribes targeting food sanitation inspectors.

The investigations have rocked confidence in Brazil's once-solid farming business, leading some countries to suspend imports of Brazilian meat for about a week and weighing on profits of several powerhouses in the industry.

One of the two newly launched probes involves an alleged scheme to delay or cancel fines in which about 3 million reais ($965,000) in bribes were paid between 2010 and 2016, police said in a statement.

Police said they were arresting 10 people in the states of Tocantins, Pará, São Paulo and Pernambuco related to the allegations.

Meatpacker Minerva is among the companies targeted by the latest probes, Arcelino Vieira Damasceno, federal police superintendent in Tocantins, said in a news conference.

Minerva, whose shares slumped 3.3 percent, said in a statement that it was cooperating with the probe, adding that it follows "rigid corporate governance norms" and that its "operations conform to all applicable legislation."

The federal police said they are also separately probing improper protection of food companies as well as persecution of government food inspectors through disciplinary procedures and unfounded removals.

Several supervisors in the Agriculture Ministry's arm in the southern state of Santa Catarina have been removed from their jobs as part of the probe, which found evidence that unnamed companies imported chemically adulterated fish into the Brazilian market without adequate oversight.

A handful of other unlisted meat, poultry and dairy companies including Frango Norte, Laticínio Veneza, Santa Izabel Alimentos, Masterboi, Laticínio Fortaleza and Laticínios Palac are also under investigation, Damasceno said. Those companies could not immediately be reached for comment.

Shares of JBS, the world's largest meatpacker, which also reported disappointing quarterly earnings late on Monday, were down 6.6 percent, making them the leading decliners on Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index.

"This is another in a string of investigations into the meatpacking sector. Even if JBS is not directly involved, that is definitely not good news," analyst Vitor Suzaki at Lerosa Investimentos said. BRF was down 2.8 percent.

JBS, whose chairman and chief executive Joesley and Wesley Batista are being sought for questioning by police in relation to a separate probe into suspected fraud in loans the meatpacker received from state bank BNDES, said it will maintain plans for listing its U.S. unit in the second half of the year.

Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, a billionaire soy producer, earlier this year criticized police for handling the investigation into sanitary and corruption problems in an "alarmist" way. The ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new probes.

($1 = 3.11 reais) (Additional reporting by Bruno Federowski; Writing by Christian Plumb; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Bernard Orr)