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August 22, 2018

Farmers in Mato Grosso Fined for Illegal Land Clearing

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Two farmers in southwestern Mato Grosso were fined R$ 150,000. (approximately $40,000) for illegally clearing 240 hectares of native forest (597 acres). In addition to paying the fines, the farmers must present to the judge within 60 days a plan for the restoration of the native vegetation. The illegal clearing occurred in the municipality of Pontes e Lacerda, which is near the border with Bolivia and approximately 420 kilometers west of the state capital of Cuiaba.

The fine will be paid in five installments of R$ 30,000 each which will be due no later than the 15th of the month on the first month of five consecutive semesters with the first payment due August 15th. The fine will be divided into three equal parts which will be paid to three local social agencies. If the farmers do not make the payments on time, they will be fined an additional R$ 500 per day (approximately $130 per day).

The Brazilian government is trying very hard to rein in deforestation everywhere not just in the Amazon Region. The area that was illegally cleared was not Amazon Rainforest, but more of a transitional forest between cerrado (savanna) and rainforest. In order to try to limit illegal deforestation, the government has put in place strict rules on what can be cleared and what must be left in the native vegetation. Obviously, these two farmers must have broken some of those rules and it turned out to be a very expensive mistake.

Not only did they have to pay to clear the land initially, they now have to pay the fine and then they have to pay for restoring the native vegetation, while at the same time, not generating any income from the land.

The vast majority of land cleared in the Amazon Region is to plant pasture for cattle ranching. Additional clearing is done by subsistence farmers conducting slash and burn agriculture or for mineral extraction, logging, infrastructure projects, or urban development.