RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) -
B razil's plan to allow foreigners to buy large tracts of
farmland to spur growth in South America's biggest country is
being closely monitored by foreign investors, such as pension
funds looking for stable, long-term returns, experts say.
Currently, foreigners must partner with domestic investors
who retain a majority stake in order to buy Brazilian land.
The proposed changes were announced by the government led by
President Michel Temer, who assumed power in August following
the impeachment of his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, over budget
It remains unclear when the proposed changes to the land
law, which are currently before Congress, will take effect.
Supporters of a relaxation of laws on land ownership say the
reform would boost Brazil's recession-hit economy and increase
Opponents fear the change could lead to the displacement of
small farmers who produce most of the food consumed in Brazil as
lead to further deforestation. Land deals, they say, would not
be transparent and easily monitored.
Here are the views of some experts who have been monitoring
the proposed changes:
JEAN BLAYLOCK, POLICY OFFICER AT GLOBAL JUSTICE NOW, A
LONDON-BASED CAMPAIGN GROUP
"These changes send a very worrying signal that the Temer
government could be about to undermine the achievements in
reducing hunger of the Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) programme.
The most important investors in agriculture are farmers
themselves, whose actual investment dwarves that of foreign
Land law needs to protect and strengthen the rights of local
communities and farmers, especially small-scale farmers, rather
than chasing illusory foreign investment - which all too often
only benefits elites."
PHILIPPE DE LAPEROUSE, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL AGRICULTURE
PRACTICE FOR HIGHQUEST PARTNERS, A U.S. INVESTMENT ADVISORY FIRM
"Brazil will have opportunities because of this (possible)
change in land law, but it's also a distressed situation. It
lowers the barrier for foreign investment to come in. It reduces
There were ways foreign investors addressed that before:
by having a Brazilian partner control 51 percent and foreign
investors controlling 49 percent.
People will have to have a strong stomach to get in
(invest) because of the political situation. Over the long term,
land has been a good asset to hold as part of a portfolio to
even out volatility and returns."
JULIANO ASSUNCAO, ECONOMIST AND DIRECTOR OF CLIMATE POLICY
INITIATIVE (CPI) IN BRAZIL
"From an economic point of view, removing investment
barriers is a no-brainer.
Brazil has a wide set of policies and regulatory instruments
that it can use to mitigate concerns about national sovereignty
and environmental and property rights protection, so blocking
investments seems a very dramatic and inefficient way of dealing
with these problems.
Foreign investment can help the country improve productivity
in the agricultural sector. The new Forest Code and the labour
legislation establish a set of conditions that, if implemented
and enforced, can avoid social and environmental damages."
FREDERIC MOUSSEAU, POLICY DIRECTOR AT THE OAKLAND INSTITUTE,
A CALIFORNIA-BASED RESEARCH ORGANISATION
"Lifting current limitations to foreign land ownership in
Brazil will just exacerbate extreme concentration of land in the
country, where a mere three percent of the population owns over
two-thirds of the arable land.
It will also give way to further land grabs in a country
where already millions are landless, and small farmers and
indigenous communities continue to lose land and resources to
logging companies and agricultural businesses.
Those who dare to claim their rights and resist are
intimidated, repressed, and killed. Indigenous communities like
the Guarani have lost nearly 95 percent of their traditional
territories to industrial sugarcane and soy plantations.
Attracting more large-scale investment into Brazilian land
will not bring development but result in further plundering of
natural resources, destruction of the environment, and
exploitation of the rural poor."
(Reporting By Chris Arsenault, editing by Jo Griffin.; Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of
Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights,
trafficking and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)