October 17, 2019 / 11:55 AM / 2 months ago

Brazil's government appoints economist Geraldo Melo as new land rights chief

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The Brazilian government has appointed economist Geraldo Melo Filho as the new head of the agency responsible for rural land rights, replacing a general who was fired by President Jair Bolsonaro last month, according to the official gazette.

The agency, known as Incra, is responsible for demarcating land for new farming settlements, often created on remote Brazilian land with no other owner.

Melo’s nomination comes weeks after former Incra head Joao Carlos Jesus Correa was fired by Bolsonaro at the urging of an official backed by the powerful agriculture lobby, which has been pushing for requests for new land deeds to be addressed.

Melo was formerly assistant secretary of External Affairs for the chief of staff. His professional LinkedIn page signals a strong connection with the agribusiness industry. He is shareholder of a company known as Seleção Guzerá Agropecuária Ltda, which owns two farms in Brazil.

Until August, Melo was also director of an association of cattle ranchers and superintendent of the National Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA).

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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