Social movements hope the proposals they presented to the government will be included in the announcement – Fábio Rodrigues-Pozzebom/Agência Brasil

By Leonardo Fernandes/ Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha
From Brasil de Fato

On Wednesday (3), the federal government launched the 2024/2025 Harvest Plan, aimed at agribusiness, and the Family Farming Harvest Plan. A total of BRL 475 billion (US$ 85,1 billion) in credit will be allocated, of which over BRL 400,5 billion (US$ 71,7 billion) will go to big business and BRL 74,98 billion (over US$ 13,4 billion) to small farmers. The announcement will be made by President Lula in two separate ceremonies at the Planalto Palace. At 11 am (local time), the Harvest Plan for Family Farming will be launched, and at 3 pm (local time), the Crop Plan for the business sector will be launched.

Anderson Amaro, from the national leadership of the Small Farmers’ Movement (MPA, in Portuguese), celebrated the rise of resources aimed at the National Program for Strengthening Family Farming (Pronaf, in Portuguese), which is one of the main lines of financing with subsidized interest for small farmers, and which is part of the Family Farming Harvest Plan.

However, Amaro points out that Brazilian small farmers are still waiting for advancements so that they reach a level of investment equivalent to agribusiness.

“We must emphasize that we need to reach the same level of investment for family farming as for agribusiness because there are still very discrepant figures compared to family farming,” he says.

For Diego Moreira, from the national leadership of Brazil’s Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST, in Portuguese), the enormous difference in resources when comparing the two modalities reflects the priority of the Brazilian state and government.

“The [government’s] priority really isn’t family farming – it’s agribusiness. So that’s why agribusiness has this large volume [of public financing] and we see this huge difference between what is made available for agribusiness and agriculture,” he said.

He rejects the argument that agribusiness receives more financing because it has a greater share of the Brazilian economy.

“A country that is one of the largest producers of raw materials in the world, the largest producer of food… How do we live with so many hungry people? How do we live with the environmental destruction we’re experiencing and unemployment at the rates we’re seeing? Agribusiness claims to be very important for the Brazilian economy and receives an exorbitant amount of financing after every catastrophe. The country couldn’t be living with these social and environmental contradictions we face today,” he said.

Encouraging food production

Amaro recalls that the MPA has proposed to the government the creation of a zero-interest financing line for food included in the basic-needs grocery package.

“It’s necessary for the products in Brazil’s basic-needs grocery package to have incentives from the federal government so that we can make food price even cheaper for the Brazilian people because a large part of agribusiness production doesn’t go to the people’s table. More than 70% of agribusiness production [in Brazil] is for export. In other words, it’s actually commodities,” he explained, stressing that the movement expects the proposal to be included in Wednesday’s announcement.

Although Moreira recognizes there has been progress in financing policies for family farming, he points out that intense bureaucratization makes the implementation of such programs a challenge for small farmers.

“We need to reduce the level of bureaucracy in Pronaf, which is a very rigid form of credit. We need to establish a command for the financial agents that operate the Harvest Plan and Pronaf so that these resources reach small farmers,” he says.

Agribusiness entrepreneurs complain

Even with an increase of around 20% in the total amount of resources of the Harvest Plan compared to 2023, members of the rural caucus and agribusiness representatives have criticized the amount of funds released, which they consider insufficient to meet the sector’s needs.

The Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil was negotiating a 30% increase in credit for the 2024/25 Harvest Plan, reaching a total of BRL 570 billion (US$ 102,7 billion), which is unlikely to happen.

Government postpones launch of agroecology plan

The National Plan for Agroecology and Organic Production (Planapo, in Portuguese) was not announced as planned during the 2024/2025 Harvest Plan launching ceremony at Planalto Palace. The postponement was due to obstacles in the negotiations over the National Program for Reducing Pesticide Use (Pronara, in Portuguese) and budgetary difficulties in calling proposals for the Nuclei for Studies on Agroecology and Organic Production (NEAs, in Portuguese). Entities linked to agroecology demand resources, and the resumption of these calls for proposals has a four-year execution period.

Pronara was drawn up by a working group created in 2013 to guide and organize the federal government’s initiatives to limit pesticide use in Brazil. Sectors linked to agribusiness are pushing for the program’s name to be changed and restricted to highly toxic pesticides only.

The organizations launched an open letter and petition, signed by more than 300 organizations, emphasizing the lack of resources and the impact on research and extension programs focused on agroecology. They also drew attention to a BRL 50 million (approximately US$ 9,25 million) call for proposals announced in 2023 during the Brazilian Congress of Agroecology, which has still not been implemented.

Edited by: Nicolau Soares

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Governo Lula,

Última Atualização: 03/07/2024