Merger of Brazil’s agriculture and environment ministries in limbo

first_imgAgriculture, Agrochemicals, Amazon Agriculture, Amazon Conservation, Amazon Destruction, Amazon People, Amazon Soy, Cattle, Cattle Ranching, Controversial, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, Environment, Environmental Politics, Forests, Green, Indigenous Groups, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights, Industrial Agriculture, Land Conflict, Land Rights, Land Use Change, Pesticides, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Saving The Amazon, Social Justice, Soy, Threats To The Amazon, Traditional People, Tropical Deforestation Article published by Glenn Scherer During his campaign, presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro repeatedly called for the merger of Brazil’s Ministry of Environment (MMA) and Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA). Bolsonaro strongly backs agribusiness, while seeing the work of environmentalists as undermining the Brazilian economy.However, the president elect was met in recent days by a firestorm of resistance against the merger from environmentalists, NGOs, scientists, academics, the environmental ministry itself, and from eight former environmental ministers.Even the bancada ruralista agribusiness lobby has come out against the proposal, calling it unworkable, noting that the two ministries have different, incompatible missions and agendas that would be compromised by a merger. Others note that a spirited dialogue between the two ministries is politically healthy for the nation.Bolsonaro, in response to criticism, said he will reconsider his plan, making a final decision on the merger known after taking office in January. Despite being close during the campaign to extreme right ruralists (mostly cattle ranchers), Bolsonaro has selected Tereza Cristina, a somewhat less radical ruralist, as new agriculture minister. A meeting of the ruralista group – major supporters of agribusiness – with then candidate Jair Bolsonaro at center in white shirt. Tereza Cristina, to the right of the new president, is Bolsonaro’s choice as Minister of Agriculture. The Bolsonaro administration takes office in January. Photo: FPA / Flickr.Throughout his campaign, now victorious presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro pledged that he would abolish Brazil’s Ministry of Environment (MMA) and fold its functions into the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) – a very controversial position.Two days after winning the race, the former army captain announced the fusion of the two ministries as part of a plan to reduce Brazil’s current 29 cabinet posts by half.His explanation, given in a March interview, seemed to be based on his blame of the environmental ministry for economic harm: “The MMA manages to do damage to what should not be done,” he declared. In comparison, Bolsonaro sees agribusiness as paramount to Brazil’s wellbeing, as seen in an October speech: “We need a president who will not get in the way of the rural producer. We will not have any more conflicts in that area.”Bolsonaro’s reasoning is supported by an outspoken and extreme group within the ruralist agribusiness faction – mostly cattle ranchers – represented by Luiz Antonio Nabhan Garcia, president of the Ruralista Democratic Union (UDR). Garcia was a frequent figure seen alongside the candidate during Bolsonaro’s campaign and also in the first round of official acts as president in Brasilia last week. Garcia has strongly criticized the limits put by Brazilian environmental regulations on Amazon deforestation, and also the Paris Agreement.In talks with other ruralistas, Garcia stated without offering evidence that “the world wants to take over the Brazilian Amazon,” threatening Brazil’s sovereignty. He has also referred to the Paris Agreement as toilet paper, and asked: “What benefits does the Paris Agreement bring to Brazil and us Brazilian [land]owners? Nothing!”Jair Bolsonaro, Nov. 2016. The presidential candidate strongly supported the ministry merger, but he backed off recently, saying he will make a final decision in January. Image by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom / Agência Brasil.Bolsonaro reverses himselfOpposition to the ministry merger was swift, coming from environmentalists, NGOs, scientists, academics and the environmental ministry itself.Eight former environment ministers – Marina Silva, José Sarney Filho, Izabella Teixeira, Carlos Minc, Gustavo Krause, José Carlos Carvalho, Rubens Ricupero and José Goldemberg – published a joint article in defense of maintaining the Ministry of Environment, along with Brazil’s continued participation in the Paris Agreement. Bolsonaro proposed withdrawing from the accord during his campaign, a position from which he has since somewhat distanced himself.Perhaps surprisingly, another group within Brazilian society ­– primarily representing soy, sugarcane, paper pulp and other crop growers, but not cattlemen ­– came out strongly against fusing the ministries. Just after the first-round election in early October, 40 representatives from the bancada ruralista agribusiness lobby in Congress met with the then candidate, who was awaiting the runoff election, and urged him not to combine the ministries.After that meeting, Garcia, a big defender of the merger, told the press that Bolsonaro would review the issue.Current Minister of Agriculture Blairo Maggi under president Michel Temer during the launching of the Agricultural and Livestock Plan for 2018/2019 in Brasília, in June 2018. Maggi, though a staunch ruralist, came out strongly against the fusion of the two ministries. Image by Antonio Cruz / Agência Brasil.Not a practicable ideaThe reason many ruralists balked: the unworkability and inconsistency of the proposal – MMA and MAPA have different charters and responsibilities, they said, and often take antagonistic positions.Even Blairo Maggi, Minister of Agriculture under current President Michel Temer and one of the largest soybean producers in Brazil, opposed the change: “How can a MAPA minister remark on an oil field or mineral exploration? [which are among MMA activities]. The fusion will bring losses to Brazilian agribusiness, due to demands made by European countries [for the nation’s farmers] to play a role in environmental preservation.”Tereza Cristina, president of the bancada ruralista and House deputy re-elected by Mato Grosso do Sul, also showed her doubts: “I will not say if I am for or against it, but it raises a concern to bring a ministry of that size and complexity to Agriculture.” Since making that statement, Bolsonaro selected Cristina to run the agriculture ministry, replacing Maggi. Cristina’s views in favor of agribusiness and against environmental regulation ­– especially in favor of the relaxation of pesticide rules – are seen as conservative by analysts, but less radical than those expressed by Garcia.The Ministry of Environment, posted a note on its official website, explaining problems with the proposed merger: “The two bodies are of immense national and international relevance and have their own agendas, which overlap only in a small fraction of their competencies. An example is that of the 2,782 licensing processes currently being carried out by IBAMA [the federal environmental regulatory agency], only 29 are related to agriculture… Undermining the authority represented by the Ministry of Environment, at a time when concern about the climate crisis intensifies, would be risky. The world, more than ever, expects Brazil to maintain its environmental leadership. ”Contacted by Mongabay, the environmental ministry declined to discuss the merger further.Federal House deputy for Mato Grosso do Sul Tereza Cristina in November 2017. She has been tapped by Bolsonaro to be Brazil’s next Agriculture Minister. Image by Waldemir Barreto / Agência Senado.Comings and goingsDespite the objections raised, Bolsonaro announced he would join the two ministries less than two days after his victory. But only two days later he stepped back from his decision, though in an ambiguous way. In his first press conference as president elect, he declared: “I have two months to decide, but it looks like [the ministries] will be separate.… But Jair Bolsonaro will be the one to choose the Minister of Environment. And [that appointee] will not be [nominated] by pressure from NGOs or a radical in defense of the environment.”Defending his reasoning for the merger, he said: “There has always been a struggle between the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment, and [I] had to pacify it. In some countries they are only one ministry.”Others dispute Bolsonaro’s contention. According to data gathered by the Climate Observatory (OC), a network of civil society organizations that disseminates climate change data, “no major commodity producer or country” has ever advocated for this kind of ministry “junction or annexation. In the United States, India, China, Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Spain, [and elsewhere] the departments or ministries are separated.”Contacted by Mongabay by email and by phone, the headquarters of Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party (PSL) did not respond to queries for this story.A supermarket in the United Arab Emirates (UAR) that sells Brazilian produce. Minister of Agriculture Blairo Maggi and farmers held meetings with the UAR in October 2018 to improve agribusiness relations. Some experts worry a merger of the agriculture and environment ministries could jeopardize future Brazilian agriculture discussions with other nations. Image courtesy of MAPA.Bad for business and the countryCriticism of the merger has continued unabated. The potential combination of the ministries “will bring serious damage to Brazil and will pass on to consumers abroad the idea that all Brazilian agribusiness survives thanks to the destruction of forests, attracting the fury of non-tariff barriers to the disadvantage of all,” said former environmental minister and 2018 presidential candidate Marina Silva on Twitter.Alessandro Molon, a federal House deputy for Rio de Janeiro, told Mongabay that the subordination of the environmental agenda to agribusiness interests is an obsolete vision. “Not even the most expressive part of the bancada ruralista, both in terms of number of representatives and in business values, is in favor of this terrible idea.”The fusion, instead of facilitating agribusiness, as Bolsonaro believes, would be equivalent to shooting oneself in the foot, said Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of Climate Observatory. “When [agribusiness] producers go to Brussels [the EU political center], they will hear demands for sustainability requirements and will not escape from them.”Rittl told Mongabay that if the two ministries are fused, the Brazilian economy, which depends heavily on agribusiness, could face setbacks. “The country is still struggling to get out of recession, and [that] recovery [requires] the support of good agribusiness practices. We would only gain from it – the country, the science, the economy, business and the image of Brazil.”According to Angelo Costa Gurgel, professor of economics at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), the merger would create difficulties for the progress of both agendas: “A ministry that accumulates the responsibility of supervising programs, activities, and developments of both agribusiness and environment would have too many [widely divergent] challenges, making it difficult to be well managed under the coordination of one single ministry and minister. Who would be the [possible] ministers and secretaries with the profile, knowledge and experience to handle so many agendas?”IBAMA seized this mining area licensed by Altamira municipality in Pará state. The mine was found to be in noncompliance with environmental licensing requirements after the Kayapó indigenous group complained it was polluting the Curuá and Trairão rivers. Analysts note that the agriculture and environment ministries both have different and often incompatible missions and agendas, mining being just one example. Image by Felipe Werneck / IBAMA.Open questionThe controversy sparked by the potential fusion shows just how vital the Ministry of Environment is to Brazil, said OC’s Rittl, who added that: “If Bolsonaro realizes this fact, he can make decisions that will benefit the country.”In addition, Rittl noted that Brazilian ministers of agriculture and of the environment, though they may not agree, have long enjoyed a spirited and productive dialogue: “The new president talks about having less ‘ideology,’ but even ruralistas like Kátia Abreu, for instance, with all her bias, was willing to dialogue [with environmentalists] once she sat in the chair of the [Agriculture] ministry.”Brazil has the opportunity to become the largest agricultural and environmental power in the world, said Gurgel, but for that to happen, a consonance of goals is needed: “That harmony will only occur through a long-term alignment of the two agendas, respecting the competencies of each [and] of both and seeking solutions to potential conflicts.”It is worth noting, Gurgel added, that a significant portion of Brazilian agribusiness already recognizes the need to ensure an environmentally sustainable and socially fair production system. And likewise, a considerable part of the nation’s environmental movement is allied with the agribusiness sector to improve best practices and the image of the country.“In short, the commitment of the two agendas through a discussion founded on science and knowledge, and for the sake of sustainable development in Brazil, seems a better alternative than the fusion of the two ministries,” said Gurgel.However, environmentalists, ruralists and the Brazilian public will need to wait until January for Bolsonaro’s ascent to power, before learning his final decision on the matter.Banner image: Jair Bolsonaro. Fábio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

What in the World? Lovebug Edition

first_imgShare This!For fans of Herbie (the actual Love Bug), I have to apologize in advance–this is about the other kind of lovebug at Walt Disney World, Plecia nearctica. Twice a year, in spring (April and May) and in late summer (August and September), lovebugs (part of the march fly family) descend on Florida, and Central Florida is not immune. Lovebug season has started to hit the Walt Disney World area in full force, and these little buggers will be with us for a few weeks.Contrary to at least one confused tourist that I ran into this weekend, these aren’t some mammoth mosquitoes here to drain the life out of you. (Don’t worry–those will show up in a few weeks when the rainy season gets into full swing.) Aside from being profoundly annoying, these bugs won’t do much of anything except be in your way–they don’t bite, but they they will land on your clothing, they’ll cover walls and benches, they’ll fall into your food if you’re eating outside. Their sole purpose is to look for love. Charming, right?One exception: If you are driving your car in and around Walt Disney World, you will likely gather quite a collection of these bugs on your car and the windshield. Due to their body’s composition, lovebug “juice” can eat into the paint on your car, so you’ll want to wash them off frequently to avoid paint damage. They also can create a waxy film on your windshield that regular windshield wipers can’t easily clean off. Windex and a lot of scrubbing can remove that film from your windshield. If you go through a large enough swarm, they can actually clog your car’s air intake, leading to reduced engine efficiency, another reason to frequently clean the front of your car this time of year.Have you seen lovebugs in and around Walt Disney World this time of year? Do you think they’re worse this year than in the past? Got another question you want us to answer about “what in the world is that?” Let us know in the comments.last_img read more

CorpWatch Makes SEC Data Accessible with an API and the CrocTail Application

first_imgWith backing from the Sunlight Founation, non-profit CorpWatch launched CrocTail yesterday, an application to provide easy access to data from several hundred thousand publicly traded companies. We heard about it via Dion Hinchcliffe, a respected enterprise 2.0 consultant and blogger for ZDNet. CorpWatch has also released the API they used to create CrocTail, one of only two to build structure around the filings data from the SEC’s own EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval) search system. The other, SEC Watch, was released in early March. CrocTail is an easy to navigate and well-formed usage of the data from this API. It has a complete company profile, a map of all subsidiaries, and a tree of the complete corporate structure.In its mission to watchdog corporations, CorpWatch also has implemented a wiki previously, but CrocTail takes a different approach by automating the creation and visualization of information on companies. With the dual release of CrocTail and the API used to build it, a powerful new resource for both the public good and business intelligence has been created. Tags:#enterprise Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Related Posts IT + Project Management: A Love Affaircenter_img steven walling 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…last_img read more

IRPAC Makes Reporting Recommendations in 2016 Annual Report (IR-2016-140; 2016 IRPAC Public Report)

first_imgCCH Tax Day ReportThe Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee (IRPAC) has released its 2016 annual report, which includes recommendations to the IRS. IRPAC was created to provide a forum for discussion of information reporting issues.IRPAC recommended that regulations be amended to allow an employer to electronically deliver Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, to all employees and, if an employee preferred paper delivery, the employee could request such and the employer would deliver the W-2 or 1095-C on paper to that employee. This recommendation would allow an employer to establish electronic delivery as the default, the employees would then retain the option to “opt-out” and get a paper Form W-2 and/or Form 1095-C, IRPAC explained.In addition, IRPAC recommended some clarifications to Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Certification. Further, IRPAC recommended that the IRS implement a process to archive past Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) so that payors that rely on an FAQ in filing information returns could later demonstrate the basis for the position taken.“Effective information reporting results in effective tax administration,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The committee’s recommendations are an important line of sight into how we can improve the IRS information reporting program,” he added. “Well designed information reporting rules help both taxpayers to comply with the law and the IRS to enforce it,” Michael Gangwer, 2016 IRPAC chair, added.IR-2016-1402016 IRPAC Public Reportlast_img read more

Three charged with staging antiSemitic attack at Winnipeg cafe

first_imgThe Canadian Press WINNIPEG — Police in Winnipeg now say anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism at a cafe was staged.Police Chief Danny Smyth says he is disappointed and angry that hate and racism were used in what he says was a disingenuous way. The three owners of the BerMax Cafe and Bistro have been charged with public mischief and have been released on a promise to appear in court next month.The incident happened last Thursday night at the cafe, where police were already investigating prior reports of anti-Semitic graffiti.In Thursday’s incident, police at the time said a woman who worked there was assaulted, the business was severely vandalized and spray-painted with hate-related graffiti.Smyth says he cannot reveal details of the investigation or talk about any possible motive for the alleged false reports.last_img read more