May 23, 2024

Decision on Ferrograo Railroad Delayed Once Again

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

The Brazilian Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes delayed once again a decision on granting permission for the construction of the Ferrograo Railroad (Grain Railroad) from the city of Sinop in northern Mato Grosso to ports on the Amazon River. The final decision has been delayed for another 90 days.

In September of 2023, the decision was delayed for six months and a Working Group was established to conduct public hearings allowing community groups to give their input. Indigenous and environmental groups took that opportunity to oppose the construction of the railroad. Indigenous groups contend that the railroad would infringe on their way of life even though it would not pass through any indigenous lands.

The most recent public hearing hosted by the Working Group of the Ministry of Transportation in the city of Santarem became very contentious as the indigenous leader Naldinho Kumaruara confronted members of the Working Group by smearing their faces with annatto, which is an orange-red food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree native to tropical Brazil.

The core problem is the executive order issued by the ex-president Michel Temer permitting the railroad to pass through the Jamanxim National Park. The Brazilian Supreme Court has ruled that park boundaries can only be altered through legislation and not by executive order. Various indigenous and environmental groups have seized on the infringement of the park's boundaries as part of their objection to the project. As part of the original executive order, the park was to be expanded by 2,000 acres to compensate for land needed for the railroad.

In reality, their underlying objection to the project is their desire to limit development in the Amazon region to preserve their rights and their indigenous way of life.

Judge Moraes indicated that their discussion were in the final stages, but it remains to be seen if the parties can bridge their difference over the next 90 days.

The agricultural community has expressed their continued frustration with delays on a project that many consider the most important infrastructure project in Brazil.