Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signs a decree giving title to smallholder farmers, but may encourage land grabbing.
President Jair Bolsonaro issued a decree on Tuesday that will allow tens of thousands of small farmers finally to earn title to the land they cultivate, fulfilling a campaign promise to the agricultural sector that supported his election.
The land regularization measure, which comes into effect immediately, but needs to be approved by Congress within 120 days, applies only to land that was occupied by farmers before May 2014 and was up to 2,500 hectares in size.
Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina said the decree would allow small farmers to obtain credits that were denied for lack of title and will generate more agricultural prosperity.
The decree simplifies paperwork that has been an obstacle for an estimated 1 million small landowner families to obtain titles, an issue that several previous governments have not been able to address.
Farmers will have to sign the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), designed to monitor land use in Brazil and protect against deforestation.
Deforestation has grown again in the Amazon over the past two years
However, according to experts, the measure signed by Bolsonaro is controversial and has the potential to encourage land grabbing, which is the illegal occupation of land from fraud or falsification of documents.
The message that the government gives, basically, is to continue to occupy public land that later the law will be relaxed and benefit those occupying that area. So what is being done in practice is a great amnesty for a crime, which is to invade public land, a crime that has been predicted since 1966, environmentalist Brenda Brito told TV Globo`s Jornal Nacional.
There are a lot of very serious landowners and farmers who are doing it right, but if you open a new window for the land grabber to legalize the land, it`s the same as me transferring part of my inheritance as a Brazilian to that land grabber, added the member of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, Paulo Moutinho.
Photo: A logging yard in the aAmazone, where deforestation has grown again over the past two years. Source: Wilson Dias/Agência Brasil/Fotos Públicas.