Brazilian Agriculture and Policy Changes under GATT

Michael D. Helmar
January 1994  [94-GATT 2]

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Suggested citation:

Helmar, M.D. 1994. "Brazilian Agriculture and Policy Changes under GATT." CARD paper 94-GATT 2. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


Agriculture has been central to Brazil's development from the 1500's to the mid-1900's. During this period, Brazil's economy was geared toward exporting a small number of primary products and its society was predominantly rural (Baer 1989). Since the Great Depression, and more rapidly since World War II, Brazil's population has become urbanized and the economy has been dominated by an expanding industrial sector. Many policies and investments needed to fuel industrial growth have been at the expense of, or have conflicted with, agricultural growth and development. Industrial policies have drawn resources away from agriculture. Industrial and urbanization have taken the population away from rural area, leaving fewer farmers with the enormous task of producing food and fiber for the sixth-largest population on earth. Since the mid-1900's, the government has provided incentives to increase agricultural production, incorporate new technologies, utilize untapped resources and redistribute existing resources. Various agricultural policy tools have been used, and government programs have been successful but expensive.