Brazil could pass a law by the end of June to lift limits on foreign purchases of agricultural land, the Agriculture Minister said in an interview.
The bill, which still has to go before Congress, would end an effective ban on major foreign ownership of agricultural land imposed in 2010 under leftist former-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The move is part of a series of neoliberal measures imposed by the government of President Michel Temer, which since coming to power in August 2016 has sought to rapidly dismantle the gains of subsequent Workers’ Party, or PT, governments.
"There will be changes," said billionaire Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi in an interview in his office in Brasilia on Wednesday
Asked if the bill could pass in the first half of 2017, Maggi, who has been accused of systematically destroying large swathes of the Amazon rainforest, said “it could.”
A former soy farmer who grew his business into the largest producer in the country before becoming governor of the agricultural state of Mato Grosso, Maggi has long riled environmentalists who accuse him of overseeing vast deforestation.
In 2005, Greenpeace awarded him their Golden Chainsaw award, "for the Brazilian person who most contributed to Amazon destruction."
In defense of his reforms since coming to power in the coup government, Maggi said they would look to support foreign investment in agricultural products with longer production cycles, rather than promoting speculation.
Restrictions could apply to soy, corn and other crops which are harvested the same year as they are planted, he said.
But he has staunchly dismissed the idea, proposed by some, that 10 percent of proceeds from any foreign land purchase go toward land reform to benefit landless farmers and peasants.
"It won't work. I'm against that. It's a penalty for the person to come here, a tax," he said.
"One of the things that most affects the results of producers is bureaucracy, rules passed years ago that make very little sense today and cost money to adhere to," he added.
His ministry has identified about 200 rules and regulations that are judged to be antiquated or inefficient. These will be updated to try and reduce the cost to producers.
"Leave the market freer so that it can run faster!" he said.