January 15, 2009

Brazil's Social Fuel Certificate Program

During our visit to the Brazilian Ministry of Mining & Energy on January 13, Ricardo and Marlon spoke about a new program to promote rural economic development and the biodiesel industry. The “social fuel certificate” program is designed to involve smaller soybean growers in the profit opportunities of biofuels. Typically, these growers cannot participate due to their size, inefficiencies, etc. This program is focused on socio-economic development of rural agrarian areas of Brazil.

“Household agriculture” is their term for “small farmer.” And that definition, which is tied to operation size, crop and labor force, changes from region to region.

Essentially, biodiesel producers receive a tax incentive for purchasing soybeans from these smaller producers. To qualify, they must purchase a minimum amount of soybeans from the small farmer. But just as importantly, they are required to provide technical assistance to farmers in the form of agronomic expertise, seed technology, etc. Finally, the biodiesel producer must have a contract in place in order to get the tax incentive.

This is yet another example of Brazil’s strategic vision centered on using biofuels as driver for economic and social growth.

Photo: Randy Klein with the Nebraska Corn Board (third from left) talks with Ricardo and Marlon from the Ministry of Mining & Energy. Mission leader Eric Rund (right) looks on.

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