In a short paragraph on farming, 72, the bishops emphasize the poverty of small farmers which is exacerbated by the inequity in the distribution of land.
Most small farmers suffer from poverty, made worse by the fact that they do not have access to land of their own. Yet there are large landholdings in the hands of a few. In some countries this situation has led the people to demand an agrarian reform, while being mindful of the evils that free trade agreements, manipulation by drugs, and other factors may bring upon them.
Land reform has been a very important topic in Latin America, at least since the 1960s. In many countries the church was at the forefront of the struggle for land reform legislation. In at least one case, Ecuador, the bishops themselves initiated processes of land reform, distributing the church’s large estates to the poor.
The Latin American bishops have spoken many times on the issues of land reform. But in 1997, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace issued a very important document on the issue TOWARDS A BETTER DISTRIBUTION OF LAND: The Challenge of Agrarian Reform. The document owes much to the work of the church in Brazil and its documents and advocacy for the landless. It can be found here.
The issue of access to land will be mentioned several times later in the Aparecida document including paragraphs 76, 86, 98, 402, and 474.