Brazil’s Rousseff signs new forest law opposed by farm lobby

Brazil enacted a controversial law on Thursday meant to protect forests and force farmers to replant trees on scattered swathes of illegally cleared land totaling an area roughly the size of Italy.

The law, signed by President Dilma Rousseff, overhauls the “forest code,” a set of laws unchanged for decades that dictates the minimum percentage and type of woodland that farmers, timber companies and others must leave intact on their properties.

The new code, following years of tense negotiations with Brazil’s powerful farm lobby, is considered necessary to help establish clearer rules for the ranchers, soy growers and other producers who pushed into the Amazon rainforest and other sensitive climes in recent decades, enabling Brazil to become one of the world’s biggest exporters of food…

But the lobby, which fought to keep the law lenient, now says it could challenge the final version in court after Rousseff late Wednesday vetoed a handful of congressional changes.

Environmentalists have opposed the bill because it reduces the total forest area many farmers are required to keep intact. Many critics also believe the law does too little to punish those who have conducted illegal clearing in the past…

Brazil is a global commodity powerhouse and a major producer of soy, corn, sugar, coffee, oranges, cotton and beef. Illegal land clearance has enabled cattle ranchers and producers of soy, the top export crop, to expand into the Amazon basin.

The rate of deforestation has slowed in recent years because of tougher law enforcement and the use of satellite imagery to track areas with the most troubling rates of clearcutting.

But environmentalists fear that trend could reverse as Rousseff dismantles longstanding environmental policies in a push to further develop the economy, which began to slow last year after nearly a decade of steady growth.

RTFA for the details. A lot of this sounds just like another day in the life of our American Congress. Lobbyists buy and sell our elected representatives. Passing laws that should benefit the lives of citizens and future generations is like an episode from one of our wars. Corporate lobbyists, profiteers present themselves as defenders of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – simply aiding poor little mom-and-pop farms.

I wonder when they’re going to discover Clean Coal?

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