Mar 23, 2023

Brazil's Minister of Transportation Promotes Ferrograo Railroad

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The Brazilian Minister of Transportation recently spoke in favor of the construction of the Ferrograo Railroad (Grain Railroad) linking northern Mato Grosso with ports on the Amazon River. He indicated that the railroad would lower carbon emissions by reducing the number of trucks transporting grain and it would lower costs.

Environmental groups are opposed to the railroad because they feel it will encourage increased agricultural production and potential deforestation. Indigenous groups are opposed to the railroad because they feel there have not been enough environmental impact studies conducted. These groups have sueded to stop the railroad and the Brazilian Supreme Court will decide their case on May 31, 2023.

Progress on the railroad was put on hold in March of 2021 when the Brazilian Supreme Court decided that President Bolsonaro did not have the authority to confiscate 862 hectares (2,130 acres) of the Jamanxim National Park in the state of Para for the construction of the railroad. They indicated that only the Brazilian Congress had the authority to alter the boundaries of national parks and it must be done through legislation, not an executive order from the president. Up until this point, the Brazilian Congress has not acted on the needed legislation.

The 900-kilometer railroad would link the city of Sinop in northern Mato Grosso with the Port of Miritituba on the Tapajos River, which is a tributary to the Amazon River. The railroad would essentially parallel Highway BR-163 which already links Sinop and Miritituba. Numerous barging operations are already operating at the Port of Miritituba transporting soybeans and corn to various ports on the Amazon River, collectively known as the "Northern Arc" of ports.

Mato Gross is Brazil's largest producer of soybeans, corn, cotton, and cattle and farmers in the state have been pushing for this railroad for decades to reduce high transportation costs when moving their grain to export facilities.