Agriculture and Agrarian Reform in Brazil:
an Evaluation of the Lula Government
Campesina Brazil, The Movement of Small Farmers, The Landless
Workers Movement, The Movement of Dam Affected Peoples, The
Movement of Peasant Women, The Pastoral Land Commission, The
Brazilian Association for Land Reform
we present a brief description of the measures taken during
the Lula administration.
that favored peasant agriculture in Brazil
Measures that don’t favor peasant agriculture and rural
social movements in Brazil
Implementation of rural insurance. Insurance now covers
rural workers and small farmers’ income in the case of
natural events that hurt the value of crops.
However, it is still not universal.
Farmers must have a pre-existing loan from the bank
to have access to the insurance.
Thus, of the 5 million peasant families only 1.2
million are able to access insurance.
The volume of credit made available to small farmers has
increased from $3 billion reais to $8 billion reais
The ‘Light for Everyone’ program is bringing
electricity to almost all rural families.
The program may exclude families living in very
isolated conditions in the north of the country.
The expansion of the home improvement program for farmers
with subsidized funds from the State bank Caixa Economica
size of the program is still very small, but it is the
first time there is a governmental program that supports
housing projects in rural areas.
In general, the Federal Government has not used the police
to repress social movements.
The exception was the use of Federal Police troops
against indigenous people who occupied a plant of Aracruz
Corporation, in the state of Mato Grosso.
At the same time, social movements suffered the
most intense and permanent repression from the Military
and Civil Police, under the administration of state
governments. In addition, judicial decisions in many
states tend toward protecting the interests of large
landowners and agribusiness.
More resources have been designated for rural education,
which is directed toward training students and teachers
from land reform areas.
However, the demand for partnerships with
universities is much higher than the available resources.
The Federal government has designated, on average,
R$30 million for the program, which is very little
considering the accumulated necessities of rural youth,
and compared to other spending programs by National
Institute for Land Reform.
Demarcation of the indigenous area “Raposa do Sol,” in
the state of Roraima, which was a historical demand of the
The investment of more resources in technical assistance
in the settlements. However, there are still bureaucratic
problems related to this program.
Support, although still weak, for cistern installation
programs (families capturing rain water) in the semi-arid
provisional measure allowing the cultivation and
commercialization of transgenic soy, which bypassed the
whole process of environmental studies.
Beyond that, repeated smuggling of prohibited
transgenic cotton and corn seeds has gone un-regulated.
The elaboration of the law of bio-security, which did not
take into account the demands of peasants or
The lack of enforcement of a law that obliges all
industries to inform consumers on their labels if their
product contains more than one percent transgenic (genetically
modified) material. More
than 8 million tons of soy were sold on the domestic
market without this information on the label.
The continuance of the Kandir law, which gives tax
exemptions to agricultural exports.
This represents a subsidy for large exporting
agribusiness, and does not stimulate the production of
food for the internal marked.
More resources from the official rural credit banks to the
10 biggest transnational agriculture corporations, which
increased from $20 billion reais to $42 billion reais
Credit support from the Brazilian National Development
Bank (BNDES) for the installation of cellulose factories
and industrial eucalyptus and pine plantations that
threaten the Atlantic forest in southern Bahia, northern
Espirito Santo and the southern grasslands.
The government has not fulfilled its commitment to make a
priority the settlement of landless families who are
currently living in camps.
There are still approximately 140,000 landless
families living in camps, waiting for land.
The government has not implemented a broad land reform
program that truly confronts the concentration of land
Standards for measuring the productivity of large farms,
and thus their suitability for expropriation, have not
been updated since 1975.
This was one of the government’s commitments
during the election campaign.
The approval of a law that transfers the collection of
land taxes to municipal governments and thus disconnects
the funds from the land reform process.
The continuance of World Bank-oriented policies like the
Land Bank and the Credit Fund in which the landless
peasants have to buy land at high prices.
The government did not mobilize its parliamentary base to
approve a law that would expropriate large ranches that
use slave labor.
The government did not mobilize its parliamentary base to
prevent the approval of a report that categorizes the
occupation of land as an act of terrorism.
The government did not take the initiative to punish those
responsible for various rural massacres, such as in
Corumbiara (1995), Carajás (1996) and Felisburgo (2004).
Violence in rural areas has increased as a result of the
government’s failure to implement effective policies to
prevent the creation of militia groups organized by large
The government did not take any parliamentary or
administrative initiative to change laws and measures that
slow the process of land reform.
The government has not demarcated various indigenous
reserves, especially the Xavantes, Guaranis, and Pataxós.
Policies that benefit large agribusiness have raised
unemployment in rural areas.
It is estimated that more than 300,000 families
have lost their jobs in rural areas in the last harvests.
The government hasn’t controlled the expansion of soy
and cotton plantations in the Amazon forest, which creates
serious environmental problems.
The government has created a law that allows the rental of
national forests in to timber companies.
The government has failed to fulfill a promise to double
the minimum wage in four years, which would be an
effective way to promote income distribution for the rural
The government has continued a policy of partnership with
foreign companies in the construction of hydroelectric
projects that do not respect the rights of people who live
by the rivers.
There is a lack of governmental control over the milk
market, which is controlled by a small number of
transnational corporations, such as Nestlé, Danon and
companies buy milk from thousands of small farmers who
were left at the mercy of their monopoly control when the
price of milk fell.
The government did not implement, as promised, a
substantive program to promote agro-industrial
cooperatives for peasants.
In the last WTO meeting in Hong Kong, the Brazilian
government defended a position that only represented the
interests of agribusinesses, and not that of peasants.
The Federal Police has closed various community radio
stations that were serving rural communities.
The official research policies for agricultural technology
continue to prioritize the interests of large corporations.
By maintaining neo-liberal economic policies, the
government has made it unviable to increase the income of
small farmers or stimulate the domestic food market. The
lack of income distribution diminishes the consumption of
food. Also, there is not enough resources for agrarian
reform and peasant agriculture.
of the Americas:
defense of nature, cultural and biological diversity
We live in a dominant economic system that has exploited natural resources
with no limitations for centuries.
At the same time, the majority of the world’s
population doesn’t have the minimal conditions of survival.
The Millennium Ecosystem
Evaluation by the United Nations recognizes that “human
activities are fundamentally changing diversity on planet
Earth, in some cases irreversibly.
These rates will accelerate in the future.” In this
important recognition of the planetary crisis, it is
fundamental to acknowledge that not all human activity is
equally destructive. Transnational
corporations, guided by the demands of profit, have the most
negative effects on the environment.
Given the dramatic nature
of this situation, we feel it is necessary to create
alternatives that assure a future hope for life.
We need to change our society to live in an
ecologically sustainable way. As inhabitants of the American
continent, we are conscious of our universal responsibility.
The Amazonian and Andean countries, such as Colombia, Ecuador,
Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela and Brazil, are rich in biodiversity,
and many indigenous people, peasants, quilombolos, and
other local communities have been able to live in
co-habitation with biodiversity.
The Amazon forest in our
countries shelters more than 50 percent of the biodiversity of
the planet. In
it, there exist at least 45,000 species of plants, 1,800
species of butterflies, 150 species of bats, 1,300 species of
freshwater fish, 163 species of amphibians, 305 species of
snakes, 311 species of mammals and 1,000 species of birds.
Given this wealth, Latin
America is the object of biopiracy practices.
In colonial times, the gold and silver reserves were
also taken away. Today, genetic and pharmacological resources,
as well as traditional knowledge have been taken by large
possession of these resources places these companies in a
strategic position in the world market because they impose
patent laws to protect their fantastic profits.
Considering this situation,
grassroots organizations that participate in the Biodiversity
Summit in Curitiba, Brazil, propose:
To preserve the biological and cultural diversity of our ecosystems, which
means taking care of the set of living organisms in their
interdependent habitats, in a dynamic equilibrium with each
To coordinate policies that aim to guarantee the integrity and beauty of
ecosystems, and respect the rights of people who depend on
implies maintaining the characteristics that assure ecological
function, and conserve the identity of living groups in their
territorial, biological, social, cultural, and historical
The preservation of biological diversity, and the
integrity of ecological systems confer sustainability to
multiple resources such as clean water, food, medicine, wood,
fiber, climate regulation, prevention of floods and illnesses.
At the same time, photosynthesis and nutrient cycling
support recreation, aesthetics and spirituality.
To oppose the introduction of exotic species that are inappropriate for
many biomes, homogenous industrial plantations, like
eucalyptus or pine, destroy natural ecosystems and result in
severe social impacts on the people who live in those areas.
These plantations only bring profit to large
corporations, but the costs for the local population are the
pollution of land and water, and the increase of hunger and
To oppose the introduction of genetically modified organisms into the
Transgenic organisms are not necessary for food
production, and are not good for anything except the profit of
a few transnational companies.
They bring risks to human health, as well as permanent
and irreversible modifications to natural ecosystems.
We are emphatically opposed to the introduction of
transgenic crops in our countries, which contaminate native
forests, causing a series of impacts on other flora and fauna,
and affect the sustenance of indigenous people, fishers,
peasants, quilombolas and other local communities.
To oppose Terminator seeds because they are an attack against life and
are “suicidal” seeds produced by large transnational
corporations. The monopoly of seeds by a few companies can put
the world’s food production at risk.
6. To oppose the attempts of the United States government and US
corporations to impose trade agreements such as the FTAA (Free
Trade Area of the Americas), or bilateral
trade agreements that only benefit foreign investments.
These agreements represent a risk to our natural resources,
our local agriculture, and our basic rights.
To manifest our support for local communities that during
centuries have developed agricultural biodiversity through
the protection of seeds that constitute the basis of food
To maintain this basis of sustenance, and the enormous
wealth of agricultural and food biodiversity, it is necessary
to affirm the rights of peasants, indigenous peoples, fishers
and quilombolas to land and natural resources, so that
they can continue to perform the crucial task of conserving
native seeds for humanity.
In conclusion, we express
our wish that these propositions become the base of new
policies that guarantee food sovereignty. This means defending
the right of each people to produce their own nourishment in
healthy and socially just conditions, preserving the
defend the rights of peasants who contribute to the
sustainability of our planet, which is absolutely essential to
guarantee the future of humanity.
April 20th, 2006