Hundreds of landless farmers in Brazil have invaded and occupied a soybean plantation owned by a company belonging to Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi. The takeover by some 500 people was organized by the Landless Rural Workers' Movement, which encourages the seizure of farmland it deems unproductive as a tactic to pressure the government.
The movement said in a statement that Tuesday's occupation was part of a campaign to promote land reform and also a protest against corruption and the administration of President Michel Temer.
Amaggi, the company owned by Maggi, confirmed the invasion of the 480 hectare farm in the central-western state of Mato Grosso. Amaggi said in a statement it would take the legal measures to evict the protesters.
Mato Grosso is Maggi's home state and the country's agricultural heartland.
The Agriculture Ministry referred comments to Amaggi. Mato Grosso is expected to produce about 60 million tonnes of soybeans and corn in the current crop cycle.
MST uses land occupation and other forms of social activism as a way to pressure the government to promote land reform, including distribution of lots for poor rural workers. Brazil has a long history of violent land disputes that have pitted farmers against peasants as well as indigenous groups.
MST says 68 people have been murdered in connection with land conflicts in Brazil this year. The group aims to convince the government to expropriate and distribute land to 130,000 peasant families, it said in the statement.