NAWG Director of Government Affairs for Environmental Policy Mark Gaede traveled to Brazil last week with a delegation of farmers and farm representatives looking at land use and climate change impacts in that country.
The six-day trip took participants primarily to the middle of the country, where deforestation is a reality and land management conflicts spread into violence regularly, often affecting indigenous peoples already feeling the effects of climate change.
The group spent much of its time with John Carter, an American who operates a 20,000 acre cattle ranch owned by his Brazilian wife’s family. Carter is deeply involved in work between producers and environmentalists to promote good land management practices and preserve the ability of landowners to manage their own properties in the face of squatters and land grabbers.
In visits with Carter and a number of native tribes, Gaede and others saw first-hand that major changes have already occurred in regional climates, affecting rainfall, humidity and forest health. These changes have increased the chances of forest fires and negatively impacted fish populations.
The group also learned from Brazilian producers and policymakers that deforestation there is driven primarily by local economics versus the demand for corn or soybeans – a conclusion highly relevant to ongoing policy discussions in the U.S. about indirect land use effects of biofuels. The group also found that rumors of foreign takeover of forest land are also overstated.
The trip was organized and funded by The Clark Group, with which NAWG and other agricultural organizations work on the issues of climate change, greenhouse gas regulations and biofuels, and the Environmental Defense Fund.
Other participants in the trip were drawn from the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association and 25x’25, and farmers from Ohio, Minnesota, Idaho and Kansas.