Brazil approves three farmland sales to foreigners

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Brazil has authorized the sale of farmland to foreigners for the first time since 2010, when the country’s attorney general imposed limits on foreign land control in one of the world’s top producers of agricultural commodities.

The three properties approved for sale are located in the states of Goias, Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais, the government’s land reform agency, Incra, said in a statement.

Sector observers said the announcement cleared up uncertainty over how the government is evaluating the sale of smaller properties to non-Brazilians.

“At least we have a protocol now. It’s slow but it’s functioning,” said Kory Melby; an agricultural consultant based in Goias who is originally from the United States. He is an agent for one of the purchasers.

Sale of properties larger than 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) requires approval from Congress.

Brazil, as one of the world’s few countries with room for large-scale expansion of farmland, could be the top global exporter of soybeans again this year after producing what is expected to be its second consecutive record crop.

Although the 2010 regulations made foreign investors more cautious, they did not prevent them from investing in Brazil’s fertile farmland. Many have been teaming up with Brazilian nationals to buy properties, or have been leasing rather than purchasing.

Neighbouring Argentina has also imposed restrictions on foreign ownership of farmland, but found in a survey published in July that less than five per cent of land is owned by foreigners. That is well below the 15 per cent limit established last year.

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