- only 1% of land owners occupy nearly 50% of farmland, which they use to produce exports such as soybeans, sugarcane, cotton and eucalyptus.-The biggest soya producing state, Mato Grosso, has the highest levels of Amazon deforestation.
- It is estimated that 25,000 people live in slave-like conditions, mostly on large farms, in Brazil.
- small, family-owned farms still produce most of the food on Brazilian tables: all the vegetables, cassava (87%), beans (70%), milk (58%), pigs (56%), poultry (50%).
- In 1970 40% of Brazilians lived in rural areas, by 2002 only 20%.
What is the problem?
Concentration of land is one of the main causes of inequality in Brazil – leading to poverty in the city and the countryside, violence and conflict in rural areas, food insecurity and malnutrition, environmental degradation, and threats to land sovereignty as foreign companies buy up land. The government has already proposed restrictions on land ownership by foreign companies.
Yet every day we see more people begging, more people swelling the peripheries of large cities, and towns in their struggle to survive. With no land of their own and poor rates of pay on some of the large farms, they see no alternative.
What needs to change?
Brazil is second only to Paraguay in the world for concentration of land in the hands of a few. The plebiscite aims to democratize access to land, to decentralize power and ensure employment and a decent life for those Brazilians currently expelled and excluded from owning land.
The plebiscite calls for a new clause in the constitution to limit the maximum area of land owned by one individual – anything above the stipulated size would be considered public property.
The concept of limiting land ownership is not new – major powers such as Japan, Italy and South Korea already have set limits for farms, successfully contributing to economic and social development.
How much land should one man own?
Extent of land ownership will be related to the quality and fertility of the land and vary from region to region.
The flyer accompanying the event:
- encourages people to vote in the plebiscite to limit land ownership and also
- to vote for governors and representatives of the senate and chamber of deputies committed to this plebiscite and to approving a proposal to confiscate land where slave labour is found. One million signatures are needed to oblige the government to hold a plebiscite.
What is The Forum for Agrarian Reform and Justice in the Countryside (FNRA)?
The Forum organised the plebiscite. It is made up of 54 organisations throughout Brazil and has the support of the Pastoral Social of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) and National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC).
Caritas and the plebiscite
The Caritas Brazilian Bazaar project is also supporting the campaign with urns at each of its businesses – artisans and small, family-based farmers among others.