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November 20, 2018

Brazil's new Minister of Agriculture will be Ms. Tereza Cristina

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

Brazil's President-Elect, Jair Bolsonaro, has announced that the new Brazilian Minister of Agriculture will be Congresswoman Tereza Cristina from the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. She is currently the leader of the Agricultural Caucus in the Brazilian Congress. She holds a degree in agronomy from the Federal University of Vicosa in the state of Minas Gerais.

Prior to being elected to Congress, she held several positions in the state government of Mato Grosso do Sul. She was in charge of four areas including: agricultural development, production, industrialization, and commerce and tourism.

During her tenure, meat exports from Mato Grosso do Sul increased exponentially after the state was certified by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) as being free of foot-and-mouth disease. During her time in state government, there were 14,278 new business opened in the state which generated 178,000 new jobs. The average salary in the state went from R$ 1,195 per month (average for the period 2007-2012) to most recently R$ 1,917 per month (approximately $520 per month).

Under her direction, tourism increased significantly in the Pantanal, which is the world's largest freshwater wetland located mostly in Mato Grosso do Sul, but it extends into Mato Grosso and parts of Bolivia and Paraguay. As a point of reference, there are approximately 4,000 species of plants and animals in the Pantanal which is the size of Wisconsin.

The tourist destination of Bonito in Mato Grosso do Sul also experienced a huge growth in visitors after it was awarded the seal as being one of the best tourist destinations in the world for responsible and sustainable tourism. The region has crystal clear springs, lakes, and rivers which are very popular with eco-tourist.

Ms. Cristina will have a lot on her plate including a request from the President-Elect to study the possibility of combining the ministries of Agriculture, Inca, Fishing, and Family Farmers into the Ministry of Agriculture.

Incra is the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform. They administer land reform issues in Brazil that have become very contentious in recent years. For example, they are responsible for resolving the issue of overlapping land titles. It is common in Brazil for several people to claim title for the same piece of land because titles are assigned by private title companies and not the local governments. As you can well imagine, resolving these title issues is extremely difficult. Another contentious issue that Incra is involved in is agrarian reform. Groups of landless poor individuals in Brazil regularly invade private farms and ranches demanding that the land be expropriated from the owner and distributed to the landless poor in 25 hectare parcels. This too is very difficult to resolve. Indigenous groups also petition Inca to establish new indigenous reserves.

One thing she will not be burdened with is the proposal for combining the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Environment. President-Elect Bolsonaro was persuaded to drop the idea after numerous agricultural and environmental groups argued that it would ruin Brazil's brand as being on the forefront of sustainable agriculture and protecting the Amazon Rainforest. Mr. Bolsonaro himself is no environmentalists, but at least he was persuaded to change his position on this one issue.