“The FPA is the largest group in the Brazilian National Congress and exists to defend the interests of farmers…”
Pedro Deboni Lupion Mello is a congressman (federal deputy) affiliated with the Progressistas Party, from the State of Paraná, and president of the Agricultural Parliamentary Front – FPA.
Lupion holds a degree in social communication with an emphasis on advertising, a master’s degree in political science, and is a specialist in political communication and election campaigns.
AgriBrasilis – How should we deal with invasions of agricultural lands?
Pedro Lupion – We at the Agricultural Parliamentary Front are historically and irrevocably in favor of the right to property and against any type of invasion of private property in the country.
Land dispossession is a crime and must be firmly opposed. In FPA meetings, we heard both from the vice president of Brazil, Geraldo Alckmin, and from the governor of the State of Goiás, Ronaldo Caiado, that in their respective States there has always been zero tolerance for invasions, and that’s how it should be.
AgriBrasilis – How is the conversation between the FPA and the Government? What is expected from the next Harvest Plan?
Pedro Lupion – Although 90% of the FPA is in opposition to the current government, on our part there has always been the intention of treating agriculture without am ideological bias, and in a technical way.
On the part of the government, in the first months of the year we received hostility and offenses, mainly coming from President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
We have always defended that, instead of President Lula making a speech to his allies, such as the Landless Rural Workers Movement – MST and the like, the government should focus on the importance of our sector: we are 1/3 of the Brazilian GDP, we generate 30% of jobs in the country, and we account for more than 50% of exports.
Recently, the government gave some positive signals for our sector, including a robust Harvest Plan, something around US$ 87.56 billion*, to help agriculture. Another positive sign was the government doing its part in equalizing interest rates, although we are still concerned about the issue of insurance, due to bad weather in some regions, such as in the State of Rio Grande do Sul.
AgriBrasilis – What are the main demands of the Agricultural Parliamentary Front – FPA?
Pedro Lupion – The FPA is the largest group in the Brazilian National Congress and exists to defend the interests of farmers. Today, we are keeping an eye on the advances of the Bill No. 490/2007, that is in the Senate, and that deals with the Temporal Framework for Indigenous Lands. It must be approved by the Senate before the matter can be judged by the Federal Supreme Court.
We are also attentive to Bill No. 1459/2022, that deals with modernizing the legislation for the approval of more modern and less toxic pesticide molecules.
In addition, Environmental Licensing (Bill No. 2159/2021) and Land Regularization (Bill No. 2633/2020) projects are on our priority agenda.
AgriBrasilis – Why does the FPA want a fast approval of the Temporal Framework?
Pedro Lupion – So that the Legislative Branch is not trampled in its role, that is to legislate and regulate, by the Judicial Branch. The decision of the president of the Supreme Court, Minister Rosa Weber, to bring the case to court, alerted the National Congress to decide on the issue of the Temporal Framework for the demarcation of indigenous lands.
For example, two cities in my State of Paraná – Guaíra and Terra Rôxa – could lose 22,000 hectares if the Supreme Court overturns the Temporal Framework. Not to mention the legal instability/uncertainty generated in the country: suspicious reports would spring up from everywhere, demanding entire properties. That is why our urgency is for the National Congress to exercise its role of legislating, providing legal certainty and enforcing the right to property.
AgriBrasilis – Another project that is being processed is the PL for pesticides n° 1459/2022. How does this benefit the agricultural sector?
Pedro Lupion – There is a conflict of narratives promoted by those who are against the Bill no. 1459/2022, even in the case of the term “agrotóxico” [the Portuguese term means pesticide and can be translated as “agriculture” + “toxic”].
Under the current legislation, it can sometimes take 10 years to approve new pesticide molecules and to allow their use. Countries like the USA and even Argentina use more efficient products, and in smaller quantities.
We usually say that pesticides are a “medicine” for the crops. We do not want to use obsolete products, that will require a greater quantity of products to work and could even cause damage to the crops. We want to use more modern molecules, in smaller quantities, that allow us to increase yields and the quality of our products. This is what Bill No. 1459/2022 is about.
AgriBrasilis – Why did you say that the text of the tax reform is still bad for agribusiness?
Pedro Lupion – What I said was that we needed to improve the text, so that there would be no harm to farmers or consumers. We understand that tax reform is necessary for Brazil, but it cannot harm the sector that generates the most opportunity and income, and that keeps our trade balance positive.
In the last version, presented by the rapporteur Aguinaldo Ribeiro, the proposed text for the tax reform guaranteed a reduced rate with 50% of the standard rate for goods and services related to agricultural products and inputs, food for human consumption and the basic food basket, among others. I was at the forefront of this articulation with the Tax Reform Working Group.
The rate reduction is something we have been asking for since the beginning, as well as the exemption for individual farmers. We have made progress, although there is still a long way to go for a final text proposal.
* Note: Interview conducted before the official announcement of the Brazilian Harvest Plan, on 06/27, that offered US$ 75.93 billion to finance agricultural activities for medium-size and big farmers.