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The Ruralist | Potemkin Villager or Hero of Soviet Labor?


«Chemicals are the true friends of agriculture! They will provide us with centuries of grain!» —Soviet propaganda poster, 1965

I read it in the Folha de S.Paulo and used it to practice the WordFast online and Java editions.

I am surprised not to read more about this issue in the mainstream press. Carnaval is something of a sacred cow, obviously, despite worrisome ties to the underworld.

Columnist, lobbyist and federal Senator — all at once! — Kátia Abreu explains the importance of Vila Isabel’s victory in this year’s Carnaval parades in Rio.

Who is Kátia?

Kátia Abreu is a federal senator (PSD-TO) and leader of the rural benches of the Brazilian congress. She serves as president of the lobbying group CNA, the Confederação da Agricultura e Pecuária do Brasil. She writes a weekly column in the Saturday edition of the  ‘Market’ section.

Recalling the background

In its 82 minute parade, Vila Isabel transformed the runway into a colorful plantation, presenting topics relating  to daily life in the fields, such as deforestation, infestations, pests, the planting of vegetables, sunflowers, and cotton and festivals with viola music.

In this rural village, celeberation, fiction and reality mix as hundreds of rural producers from all over Brazil put on their native costume and introduced themselves on the runway, greeting the dawn with a passionate cry of “Vila Isabel, the champion!”

All of which goes to show that Carnaval can indeed accept patronage — why not? — as long as the theme is relevant and the patron … is not simply trying to sell its goods and services.

This condition reminds one of nonpartisan 501(c)(3) groups in the U.S.

Vila Isabel patron Basf provided the theme and the money — the amount has not been revealed — leaving it up to the escola de samba to compose the music and field the parade.

When Unidos of Vila Isabel arrived at the the Sambódromo at 5:40 p.m. of Fat Tueday, the figure honored by the theme of its parade was already hard at work.

This figure was unable to watch the tribute live on TV. People wake up early in rural Brazil. By the time the sun is up, everyone is at their posts.

Not even major holidays such as Carnival interrupt production, which labors endlessly to put the cheapest food in the world on the Brazilian table.


According to Mother Jones  — above — and like sources, rapidly googled, U.S. food prices are the lowest in the world relative to average income.

The gorgeous theme, “The Rural Road,” which won Vila Isabel the championship and universal acclaim, does long overdue justice to a segment of Brazilian society that has historically been neglected — and vilified — by an influential sector of Brazilian society in the name of political and ideological interests.

The battle for the nationalization of the rural sector, long a project of the revolutionary left, rests on the attempt to attribute to the agricultural producer the responsibility for Brazil’s social problems. The reality is just the opposite.

No other social sector contributes so much to the economic and social development of the country.

Let’s see now: Agribusiness has for years now been responsible for successive trade surpluses, and it accounts for 30% of Brazilian formal employment.

Our total annual export surplus is US$ 79.4 billion; the overall surplus of the country is US$ 19.4 billion, which means that agro finances a US$ 60 billion deficit in other sectors of the economy.

For example, it covers the US$ 22.2 billion that Brazilian tourists spend abroad, while foreign tourists leave only US$ 6.6 billion behind them in Brazil.

Modern Brazilian agribusiness is a model for the rest of the world.

A study of agricultural productivity in 156 countries, published by the USDA, shows that our agribusiness sector grew 4.04% between 2000 and 2010, compared with a rate of only 1.84% worldwide.

This performance owes everything to the implementation of new technology and devotion to work –the virtue extolled by Vila Isabel.


“To sow the grain … / To relieve hunger by planting / this is the task… / to plow and to cultivate the soil / to see the old dream sprout anew / to feed the world/ to live well / … ” runs one verse of the samba, sung by the thousands of revelers that crowded the bleachers of the Sambódromo.

Despite this, the sector has been blamed for Brazil’s colonial and slave-owning heritage and labeled as outmoded.

The fact is, however, that agribusiness is the economic sector that invests most in production techology and in the training and modernization of its workforce.

Our opponents accuse the sector of being an environmental predator — this in a country 61% of whose territory is covered with native vegetation, with less than one-third (27.7%) used for food production.

No other country on earth even remotely approaches this profile.

Amazônia — eternal focus of international designs and the obsession of NGOs in the service of the foreign environmentalitists– saw its deforestation rate fall by 84% between 2004 and the present.

No one knows, or takes better care of, nature and the environment than the man who depends on them for his livelihood — the rural producer.  That is why the accusations against him are so absurdly slanderous.

In the language of the samba, one might say that agribusiness is the drum major of the Brazilian economy.

For “drum major” read comissão de frente, the opening bloc of revelers, which generally presents top leadership of the crew. Machine translation was stymied and my brain did not stumble on anything better.

It keeps up a steady rhythm and has led Brazil to victory in the parade of development for many years.

It is, therefore, inadmissible that we still lack a solid system of agricultural insurance, and that agricultural producers are expelled from lands in the name of an ideological, outworn anthropology that conspires against social well-being.

What is more, it is absurd that we have the inefficient ports in the world, thanks to a small minority that defends private interests to the detriment of the national interest.

The homage paid by Vila Isabel represents a signficant –and more than deserved — recognition by urban and popular Brazil of a social group that has served the national interest with competence and dedication, like no other.

A segment that will never stop doing so.

To those who play games with our national interest, our motto is: Open the way! Escola de samba coming through!

As far as I have read up on the subject, land reform cases mostly tend to result in a leasing or sale of arable land to large agribusiness companies — the ruling party’s record on policy objectives near and dear to the Landless Workers has not pleased the latter.

The hard-working rural producer with the sweat of his brow and rugged independence and what not — is it what you would call a straw man, pun intended?


Not necessarily, but large, industrialized producers tend to control more and more arable land — source.