Land Reform

Land regulation may give an area 7 times that of Portugal to Brazilian farming elites

A temporary measure proposed by the Bolsonaro government will expire unless approved by May 19th

Translated by: Ítalo Piva

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
The opposition and civil society groups are pressuring congressional president, Rodrigo Maia, to cancel the vote on Temporary Measure 910/2019 - Nelson Almeida/AFP


Temporary Measure 910, known as the land-grabbing, or Land Regulation measure, which seeks to regulate around 600 thousand rural estates till 2022, may go up for a vote in the Brazilian National Congress this week, after the bill’s sponsor, congressman Zé Silva struck a deal with congressional leader Rodrigo Maia. 

The provisionary law is facing backlash from environmentalists, the opposition, the National Conference of Bishops (CNBB) and even the Attorney General’s office. In case the bill doesn’t pass both houses of the legislative branch (Congress and Senate) until may 19th, it will expire. 

According to the land rights organization Terra de Direito, as well as other experts who spoke to Brasil de Fato, the temporary measure, signed by Jair Bolsonaro in December of last year, allegedly promotes regulating state owned rural areas, but “is a clear attempt to regulate public lands that have already been illegally seized”. 

The Attorney General’s office (MPF) actually went as far as publishing several studies highlighting irregularities and constitutional issues contained in the bill.

For Gilmar Mauro, from the national directorate of the Landless Workers Movement (MST), president Bolsonaro is committing a “criminal” act by proposing the measure “at a time when great part of the Brazilian population doesn’t even have 100 square meters on which to build a home, the majority of the Brazilian people are out of work, and on the verge of hunger and misery as we face a pandemic”. 

Mauro points out that if approved by Congress, the law will transfer control of over 65 million hectares of land to the agricultural elites. “This is an area 2.5 times the size of the state of São Paulo and 7 times the size of Portugal”, he explains, also adding that the approval of the measure at this point in time will mean the destruction of the Amazon

Gilmar Mauro reminds us that the Brazilian farming elite was created on the basis of land grabs. “In the history of this country, land grabs, meaning, large estate owners falsifying documents to establish land ownership have been the norm. Through this, the Brazilian agro elite was formed, along with their “jagunços”, or armed cronies, who helped extinguish small farmers”. 


Deforestation in the region has increased by 64% by April of this year compared to the same period in 2019, according to data published last Friday(9th) by the National Research Institute (Inpe). The institute sees a direct correlation between this increase and the pandemic, since enforcement has diminished due to social distancing measures.

In one of the four technical studies produced by the Attorney General’s office that was sent to parliamentarians, the Public Ministry affirms that the temporary law promotes “the worsening of conflicts in rural areas, incentivizes illegal environmental practices and solves the problem of allocating public lands without debating important constitutional parameters, such as the social functionality of property, the principle of equal rights and administrative impartiality, the principle of proportionality, agricultural and land reform policies, the right to an ecologically balanced environment, as well as rights that pertain to health, security and leisure”.

In a press release, Archbishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, president of the National Conference of Bishops asks for “common sense in regards to Temporary Measure 910, which deals with land reform. It’s a complex issue that involves assets of the State, environmental questions, land grabbing and consequently, violence in the countryside, as well as different special interests”.


Edited by: Leandro Melito e Luiza Mançano