Taubaté Convention

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Taubaté Convention

Taubaté Convention, an agreement reached in 1906 by the Brazilian coffee-producing states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro in the Paulista town of Taubaté. Faced with Brazil's largest bumper coffee crop, state officials and planters sought through federal financial aid and state intervention to control the supply of coffee and support coffee prices.

Coffee was Brazil's leading export product during the nineteenth century and production spread from the Paraíba Valley of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro into the neighboring provinces of Minas Gerais and Espíritu Santo. The initial problems that beset the coffee economy were associated with the capitalist crises in overseas markets in the early 1870s, coupled with local problems related to deforestation, soil depletion, shortage of capital, and planter indebtedness in the initial coffee-producing areas. The emancipation of the slave labor force in 1888 without compensation to slave owners was followed a year later by the fall of the Brazilian monarchy and the onset of the First Republic. In the final decades of slavery and the monarchy, the dynamic center of the coffee economy shifted from Rio de Janeiro to the interior of São Paulo, where pro-monarchist sectors of the Paulista planter class became increasingly disenchanted with the Republican government's ineffective support measures. Between 1901 and 1903 mildly successful efforts were made to form a planters' political party and in 1902, monarchist coffee planters led a protest rebellion to unseat President Campos Sales and the state government that had responded to the coffee crises of overproduction with a decree that prohibited further planting.

The election of Afonso Pena to the presidency in 1906 coincided with the onset of bureaucratic centralization and modernization under the São Paulo state governorship of Jorge Tibiriçá, and, sympathetic to the plight of Paulista planters, the federal government in 1908 approved the valorization measures outlined in the Taubaté treaty. The treaty called for a £15 million loan with a federal guarantee for the purchase of coffee to hold it off the market and maintain a price above the 1897–1905 international average of thirty-eight francs. All states were to follow São Paulo's example and levy a prohibitive tax on new coffee trees to reduce the supply of coffee. A Coffee Institute was established in São Paulo to regulate the production and commercialization of coffee. A public coffee exchange run by representatives of the planters was to replace the exporters who had been grading coffee, and campaigns to promote Brazilian coffee among foreign consumers were called for. Repayment of the loan would be financed through a three-franc-per-sack export surcharge on coffee and a Caixa de Conversão (Bureau of Exchange) would stabilize the exchange rate.

Many of the treaty's provisions were only implemented partially and some not at all. Financing and storage of coffee continued to be inadequate; the call for a coffee exchange was only fulfilled in 1916; the prohibition on planting new land in São Paulo ended in 1912; and two years later the Caixa de Conversão was terminated. Two additional federal government valorization initiatives rescued coffee producers in ad hoc reactions to crises in the world markets in 1918 and again in 1921.

See alsoCoffee, Valorization of (Brazil); Coffee Industry.


Stephen C. Topik, The Political Economy of the Brazilian State, 1889–1930 (1987).

Mauricio A. Font, Coffee, Contention, and Change in the Making of Modern Brazil (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Grieg, Maria Dilecta. Café: Histórico, negócios e elite. São Paulo, SP: Olho d'Agua, 2000.

Perissinotto, Renato M. Estado e capital cafeeiro em São Paulo, 1889–1930. São Paulo: FAPESP: Annablume, 2000.

                                           Nancy Priscilla S. Naro