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“Soft” or “hybrid” governance holds considerable promise in attempts to reconfigure state-market–society relationships toward improved environmental outcomes. “Soft” governance processes in Brazil's globally competitive, high-input/output agriculture sector have major implications for landuse policies. Here we identify and analyze two emergent processes, a compliance regime and bioregion-based market exclusion approach, that stand out amid a background of conflicts between agricultural land uses and environmental regulation. We address the effectiveness of “soft” governance, using a framework that focuses on interactions among state and non-state actors, use of geographic information, relations to global processes, and discourse. These policies may play an important role in bridging the divide between environmental and agricultural interests, but market and state actors, and the uneven effects of globalization, will influence effectiveness. Our framework for analyzing governance processes should complement future work that directly measures environmental outcomes.
► We study the effectiveness of compliance and market exclusion in Brazil. ► Effectiveness varies according to globalization and market and state actors. ► Policies studied may help bridge the environment-agriculture divide.
Keywords: Agriculture; Environment; Governance; Brazil