“No other country has as much legislation protecting the environment as Brazil, which ensures the sustainable development of our agribusiness.”
Renato Dias dos Santos is a founding partner of Renato Dias dos Santos Advocacia & Consultoria, a lawyer working in agrarian and agribusiness law and specialist in civil procedural law by Universidade Católica Dom Bosco.
Dias dos Santos is a member of the Agrarian Affairs and Agribusiness Committee of OAB (Brazil’s equivalent of the Bar Association in English-speaking countries) in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul.
AgriBrasilis – What is the history of agrarian law in Brazil? Is it possible to compare agrarian policies of Brazil and other Latin American countries?
Renato dos Santos – In Brazil, the main legal instance to discipline agrarian law is the 1964 Land Statute, whose main objective is to regulate rights and duties related to rural properties and to promote agrarian reform, establishing an agricultural policy for the country.
Comparisons between Brazilian agrarian policy and those of other Latin American countries would be unreasonable because Brazil occupies 48% of all of South America. It is a country with continental dimensions that has a vast area of arable land, which brings not only benefits and economic possibilities, but also challenges. No other country has much legislation protecting the environment as Brazil, which ensures the sustainable development of our agribusiness.
With so much legislation guaranteeing legal reserves and maintenance of permanent preservation areas in coexistence with an agribusiness that feeds the world, I do not believe that Brazilian agrarian law can be compared with that of other Latin countries.
AgriBrasilis – What are the main types of “land grabbing”, in which regions are they more frequent, and how are these processes resolved?
Renato dos Santos – Land grabbing consists of the occupation of public lands by private individuals through presentation of false documents to prove legitimacy of the property.
The best-known form of land grabbing occurs through falsification of property titles already registered in registry offices, but there is also the illegal deforestation of public lands to simulate an old occupation to the point of obtaining a land title from the government itself.
This second type of land grabbing takes place through the process of land regularization, which is provided by Brazilian legislation to regulate cases in which the government itself encouraged occupation of the Amazon, where this practice was most common. These cases are from two or three decades ago and not from contemporary situations, since this occupation policy no longer exists today.
The first step towards an effective fight against land grabbing is to prevent public lands from being invaded, deforested and the government itself giving amnesty for illegal occupation of these areas by means of unreasonable land titling.
A second measure is the criminal punishment of gangs that illegally occupy public lands, reinstating government possession of these areas.
One way to resolve this issue involves amending state laws that make it possible for invaded and deforested land to be legally transferred to criminals.
AgriBrasilis – How should the legal planning of farmers who intend to acquire new land be in terms of environmental issues? From a legal point of view, how to combine agriculture with sustainable economic growth?
Renato dos Santos – The farmer who is going to close purchase land needs to be aware of some important aspects about the property, which go beyond environmental issues. The buyer must:
- check the regularity of the property before environmental agencies, analyzing the Rural Environmental Registry;
- research before the State Public Ministry if the property is being investigated in an environmental issue, if it has signed a Conduct Adjustment Term regarding any irregularity found on the property;
- research with the property registry office on the regularity of the real estate registration, also with the purpose of studying the existence of any encumbrance noted in the registration of the property;
- carry out a thorough research on legal actions that fall on the property, in order to avoid acquisition of an asset that may be subject to any restriction from a creditor.
On the issue of economic growth in comparison with sustainable agribusiness, the main guideline is for farmers not to incur environmental damage with practices that deplete the environment, as well as to observe restrictions on the use of Permanent Preservation Areas and Legal Reserves, in order to avoid strict penalties imposed by environmental agencies.
Adopting a rural development model that combines economic growth with environmental protection is not always an easy task, but the success of Brazilian agribusiness has shown that our farmers have done well in this regard, increasing production through better use of the land.