Cargill Agricola port for soy export, Brazil

Cargill's port ilegally operated until its closure in 2007, as the result of the peasants' and indigenous communties' fight for the forest preservation. Still after Cargill communicated its Environmental Impact Assessment, the port reopened in 2012.

Over the last few years Brazil has become the world second largest soy exporter, after the U.S.A. “In the 2014-2015 harvest it produced 95 million tons, 60.7 million of which were exported”. At the same time it ranks as the fifth highest CO2 emitter, resulting from deforestation and fires set in order to obtain land for cultivation. In Santarem, a city of 180,000 inhabitants in the State of Para, at the confluence of the Amazon and the Tapajos River, the American multinational Cargill has built a port for the collection and transport of soy, a product previously not grown in the area. The port was built without the Environmental Impact Statement required by the Federal government. Peasants and indigenous communities oppose the port because it led to the development of soy monoculture and they fear deforestation and forced displacement. In March 2007, the Brazilian Environmental Agency shuts down the port. The local communities, together with foreign supporting organizations kept mobilizing asking for the permanent closure of the port. Indeed, the State Secretary of Science and Technology imposed a temporary closure. The conditions for the reopening were for Gargill to submit and obtain the approval of an Environmental Impact Study of its port. The prosecutor in Santarem, Felipe Friz Braga, who raised the case, explains the reason for the suspension of activities imposed on the company: 'There is a frenetic increase in deforestation. Forests destroyed, communities expelled from their territories, both the results of pressure and violence perpetrated by economic concerns that have arrived in the region. All this because of the productive potential of the territory, which allows for intensive production of soybean'. In 2010, Cargill communicates its port’s Environmental Impact Assessment  (EIA) where it used the results from the Greenpeace and PSA mapping of the area to argue in favor of the soy’s cultures “minimal social negative impacts” (see page 20 of the EIA).  Since 2006, Cargill, under its partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), pledges for a so-called greener soybean production in the Amazon, under the Soy Moratorium agreement.  Finally in August 2012, the SEMA grants the US company its operating permit. Today the exportation capacities of the port keeps growing exponentially as the possibility for six new port’s terminals was considered in 2015. This situation is an important concern for the local inhabitants and local associations. As for instance, the new project for the construction of a port on the Maica Lake highly endangers the fishermen livelihood.  No matter how genuine are Cargill Soy Moratorium's intentions, the intensification of the port's activities contributes to the opening of the rainforest's fragile frontiers to greedy settlers.
Basic Data
NameCargill Agricola port for soy export, Brazil
ProvinceState of Para
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Ports and airport projects
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific CommoditiesSoybeans
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
In November 2003, Cargill built a container terminal for the access of large cargo ships loading and transporting the soybeans harvested each year.
See more...
Level of Investment (in USD)20,000,000.00
Type of PopulationUrban
Start Date2006
Company Names or State EnterprisesCargill from United States of America
Companhia Docas do Para (CDP) from Brazil
Bunge from United States of America - Built the first installations, soon joined by Cargill
EMBRAPS - Is about to construct a new port in the green area neigbhourhood Maica Lake
Relevant government actorsFederal Brazilian Environmental Agency (IBAMA), State of Pará Environmental Secretariat (SEMA), Secretary of State for Science and Technology, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Companies, Federal Ministry of Public Prosecution (MPF)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGreenpeace, Indigenous Community of Santarem - Brazil, association of Local Residents of the Perola Neighourhood of Maicá, MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) - Brazil, PSA (Projeto Sade and Alegria) - Brazil, Verdi Federation Party - Italy
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming
Potential: Soil erosion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
OtherThe massive use of pesticides risks the lives of local residents, especially children
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Violations of human rights
Potential: Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Project temporarily suspended
As a result of these protests, environmentalists and social movements obtained a two-year moratorium on the deforestation planned to ensure the cultivation of soybeans.
Development of AlternativesDemand the permanent closure of the port.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The IBAMA closed Cargill's port in 2007. But it reopened in 2012.
Sources and Materials

'O Brasil est nu! O avano da monocultura da soja, o grao que cresceu demais', FASE, 2006
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Cargill's port Environmental Impact Assessment, 2010 (in Portuguese)
[click to view]

Cargill - Eating up the Amazon, Greenpeace Report, May 2006
[click to view]

The impact of the Cargill soybean terminal in the Amazon town of Santarém, Dutch Soy Coalition, Case Study 2, 2008
[click to view]

B. Baletti, Saving the Amazon? Sustainable soy and the new extractivism, Environment and Planning A 2014, volume 46, pages 5–25
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Official website Cargill
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Movimiento Sem Terra
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Greenpeace Brasil
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Cargill's controversial soya port closed in the Amazon, Greenpeace, 27/03/2007
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PSA: Saude e Alegria, regional NGO
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Cargill's controversial soya port closed in the Amazon, Greenpeace, 27/03/2007
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Пристанище Каргил Агрикола за износ на соя, Бразилия (Cargill Agricola port for soy export, Brazil), Friends of the Earth Russia, 14/02/2015
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Brazil shuts down Cargill's Amazon port, 03/26/2007
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Cargill's controversial soya shipping facility in the Amazon is shut down, Greenpeace, 24/03/2007
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Criticisms of Cargill
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Cargill’s Santarém port terminal gets operating permit, Cargill website, 06/08/2012
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Brazil’s Amazon River Ports Give Rise to Dreams and Nightmares, IPS, 11/12/2015
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Responsible Soy in South America, The Nature Conservancy and Cargill
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Movimento Tapajos Vivo
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Other Documents

"The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is pushed away by Cargill's facility ship during a protest against the company's illegal soya port in the Amazon rainforest" Greenpeace International
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Greenpeace activists blocking Cargill port, May 2006 Friends of the Earth Russia / Greenpeace Picture
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Cargill’s port on the banks of the Tapajós River under operation in 2015 Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS
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Other CommentsIn 2010, Era Maggi Scheffer from Mato Grosso has plans to invest R$ 50 million ($25 million) to build a grain terminal in the port of Santarm.
Meta Information
ContributorLucie Greyl
Last update24/02/2016