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RSS By: Mike Walsten, Pro Farmer

Mike Walsten has covered major business trends in agriculture for more than 40 years.

Will Brazil Shut The Door On Foreign Ownership Of Farmland?

Jun 23, 2010

Mike Walsten

Brazil wants to tighten restrictions on foreign ownership of farmlands in its nation, the Agrarian Development Ministry told local media yesterday. According to Stan Lehman of the Associated Press, ministry spokeswoman Denise Mantovani confirmed published remarks by Minister Guilherme Cassel, who said the government does not want foreigners to buy agricultural land in Brazil. Included in the published reports is a potential threat to non-Brazilians already owning farmland in Brazil.

"We do not need foreigners to produce food in Brazil," Cassel told the business newspaper Valor Economico. "This is the policy of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Because of food security, Brazilian lands must remain in Brazilian hands," he said.

Mantovani said 10 million acres (4 million hectares) of land had been registered by foreigners as of 2008 and that between 2002 and 2008, foreigners invested $2.43 billion to purchase land. According to Valor Economico, the decision to put a lid on foreign ownership of land is due to rising world demand for food, water and natural resources.

According to the AP report, Mantovani said that current law says large rural properties can only be purchased by Brazilian citizens or residents.

"But foreigners often bypass that rule by setting up companies in Brazil, which are controlled abroad, to purchase land. This is a foreign company and this is what we want to control. I am not a xenophobe but our land is finite. The population grows and demands food,” the minister said.

Mantovani said that representatives from several ministries were preparing a constitutional amendment to further restrict foreign ownership of land.

She said the amendment being drawn up “could include the revoking of land titles already purchased by foreigners.” She did not provide details.

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