Brazil has developed a large-scale commercial agricultural system, recognized worldwide for its role in domestic economic growth and expanding exports. However, the success of this sector has been associated with widespread destruction of Brazilian ecosystems, especially the Cerrado and the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, as well as environmental degradation. Brazil's agricultural development has also led to land consolidation, aggravating a historical land distribution inequality. This pattern of agricultural growth has reinforced Brazil's status as one of the world's most inequitable countries in terms of income distribution, making it difficult to assert that the nation is pursuing a sustainable development path. In order to achieve sustainable development Brazil must reconcile its increasingly productive, modern tropical agricultural system with environmental preservation, social equity, and poverty alleviation in rural and urban areas. Although a daunting task, Brazil has the opportunity to lead tropical countries in combining modernized agriculture with highly diverse and functional ecosystems. Continued improvement in socioeconomic conditions is equally important and will require stronger efforts to decrease inequalities in income and land distribution in the rural sector.