The interests of Agribusiness and the Coupist Government

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By: Frei Sérgio Görgen and João Pedro Stedile / Source: Brasil de Fato / The Dawn News / July 14, 2016. The elites didn’t just come together to oust Dilma, but also to tend to the interests of capital regarding goods.28201230262_86172a54be_z

The landowning aristocracy, the elite of agriculture and transnational companies of the agribusiness were the main actors in the coupist onslaught that interrupted the democratic process and the redistribution of wealth that, albeit slowly, was still advancing in Brazil.

They came together to accelerate the implementation of an agenda that represents the interests of big capital in the property over nature’s goods, especially land, and agriculture in the country. And, to that end, they built, with the help of their legislators and some intellectuals akin to ruralism, a clear set of proposals.

This set of proposals became known through three means: firstly, through the publication of the Agricultural Thought Institute (IPA), which nucleates 39 entities of Brazilian agribusiness, secondly, through the Agricultural Parliamentary Front, also known as Ruralist Caucus, which was published before the Parliamentary Coup, and thirdly, through the appointment of the new Agriculture Minister, Senator Blairo Maggi, who in his interviews and statements offered a pedagogic explanation of that the ruralists want.

Let’s go over their proposals:

  1. Structural proposals for expanding capital in agriculture through the agribusiness model. The Ministry of Agriculture should be led by leaders that have a technical capacity, as well as influence and reach with the private sector. Also it should be managed by a “technical government”. These kind of leaders should have a “profound knowledge of the sectors and have, above all, a close relationship with the entities that represent the sector and with political leaders” (this was fulfilled by appointing Blairo Maggi).
  2. Downsizing the state, that is, decisions should be made by the market. And the state only intervenes to make up for losses and ensure they get their expected profits. A risk-free capitalism!
  3. Pluri-annual agrarian policies, with a mid- and long-term range. This reveals that they intend to stay in power for a fairly long time.
  4. Increase in the offer of credits, with lower and controlled interest rates. Loans for the rural sector should have less bureaucracy, the legislation on credits should be modernized, there should be a single registry for producers and cooperatives in the financial system, and a Credit Guarantee Fund and an Agribusiness Investment Fund should be created. These measures would consolidate the alliance between landowners and financial capital, which they increasingly depend on.
  5. To stimulate foreign investments and the involvement of big banks in rural loans.
  6. A Rural Insurance with increased resources subsidized by the state and the regulation of the Catastrophe Fund (in order to pay less for the insurance and divide the damages with the whole of society).
  7. To regulate contracts with a purchase option as a policy to control prices.
  8. Government support to access the external market of commodities, in better conditions to compete with foreign capitalists.
  9. To change the law to enable the selling of lands to foreigners, and even companies with a majority of foreign capital. (The law is already being discussed in the Chamber of Deputies, and constitutes an attack against national sovereignty).
  10. To create a National Plan for private storage, to guarantee a subsidized supply of grain.
  11. Resources for a national plan of irrigation of agribusiness.
  12. Simplify and accelerate the authorization of new poisons in order to increase production and use of chemical herbicides.
  13. To accelerate the labor law of outsourcing, in order to hire temporary workforce in a cheaper way and without any sort of risks.
  14. To adapt labor laws to the “real conditions of farming” and change the “slave labor” law, because they believe that the concept is too broad.

Proposals of agribusiness to confront peasant agriculture and the peoples that live in rural areas

To end the government demarcation of indigenous lands and Afro-descendant lands. With the approval of the Proposal to Amend the Constitution Nº 215, only the National Congress would be able to recognize new areas. In addition, they want to review the demarcations made in the last few years.

  1. End the expropriations of the Agrarian reforms, which are considered to be unnecessary.
  2. Revision of the attributes of the INCRA (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform), to transform it into a mere land management agency, which would issue property deeds and distribute the lands of the Union.
  3. Shutting down the Ministry of Agrarian Development (MDA). Give the attributions of this ministry back to the Ministry of Agriculture, Breeding and Supply (MAPA) and transferring all social programs of the MDA and the extinct Ministry of Fishing to the Social Development Ministry. (The MDA has already been shut down and all public policies for peasant agriculture have been abandoned).
  4. Shutting down the National Company of Supply (CONAB).
  5. Transforming the National Council of Environment (CONAMA), which is a deliberative organism, into a consultative one.

 

III. The proposals explained by Minister Blairo Maggi: “Brazil doesn’t need an Agrarian Reform”

It looks like the new “Soy King” is one of the “differentiated leaders” mentioned by the authors of the Agribusiness Agenda. Let’s take a quick look at his statements to the press after the public audience in the Federal Senate, on June 23, 2016.

  1. Brazil can grow without an Agrarian Reform, without new settlements, without new occupations. He could be even more explicit and say: “Brazil can grow exclusively on latifundia, and doesn’t need landless peasants to become farmers. We only need them as day labourers for our estates.
  2. Maggi justifies the eviction of settlements in order to allow big landowners to buy or rent the lands of the agrarian reform.
  3. He intends to privatize the storage of the CONAB. He wants the government to hire private storages to ensure the availability of supplies.
  4. He’s against any sort of tax on the profits of agricultural exports to pay for social security. He’s also against the reviewing of the Kandir Law (which exempts exports of primary products, semi-manufactured products and services from paying the Tax on Transport of Merchandises and Transport Services), and which is promoting the bankruptcy of the agricultural states of the country.
  5. He’s in favor of selling lands to foreigners without restrictions.
  6. He defends lower taxes for the agricultural sector.
  7. He promotes the outsourcing of Agricultural Auditing. “This service must be provided by outsourced, capitalist companies, which would be much more efficient”. For whom?

Conclusions

  1. Many of the proposals are still not specific enough, and therefore, very dangerous to the interests of Brazilian society as a whole. The goals are more specific when they deal with resources, loans, and the destruction of existing structures.
  2. There are many internal contradictions: they say they want a smaller state, but many  of the proposals (loans, insurance, storage, irrigation) demand even more public resources for the sector. That is: less state for peasants, more state for agribusiness.
  3. Their proposals have already begun being implemented in the first two months of coupist government. The MDA was eliminated. Indigenous peoples are being severely repressed. Minister Maggi is now working fast to implement his agenda.
  4. There are items that are not included in the explicit agenda of the sector but are embraced by the dominant class as a whole, because they deal with the working class as a whole. For example: changes in Rural Social Security (they promote raising the minimum age to 65 and eliminate benefits for minimum wage) and allowing the Army to repress land occupations.
  5. Against this plan and the threats it entails, the Social and Union Movements of peasants need to organize their defensive strategy, their resistance and their mass struggle to defeat this project that wants Brazil to go back to colonial times.
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