And, they–along with countless other sources–cite that, “The biggest driver of deforestation is agriculture . Farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock.” Plant-based agriculture used to feed animals bred for food drives up the amount of resources consumed by crops – “intensive livestock production requires large quantities of harvested feed. The growing of cereals for feed in turn requires substantial areas of land” – while grazing animals such as cattle place additional stress on the state of Earth’s forests, especially the Amazon Rainforests.
For many in the community of Belterra, an hour's drive south of Santarém, the moratorium comes too late. As the head of the Rural Workers Union local, Auricelia Núnes, 33, represents some 5,000 farming families. These people, she said, had been coaxing a decent living from their small plots, when, in the late 1990s, outsiders from southern Brazil began buying up property at a pittance. "There are many small farmers who don't know the value of money," Núnes said. "They thought the money would last, but it doesn't." Now they languish in Santarém's growing slums.