Brazil has made significant investments in public agricultural research and development (R&D) over the past 50 years. This policy priority has allowed the country to achieve high levels of total factor productivity (TFP) growth, especially in the past two decades1,2. These investments have benefitted consumers, both in Brazil and worldwide. Brazil had not fully recovered from a recent economic recession (mid-2014 to 2016) when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the global economy. Before COVID-19 public agricultural R&D expenditures in Brazil had already declined compared to its 2000-2017 levels2. The fiscal deterioration in the wake of this pandemic could further jeopardize Brazil’s capacity to invest in agricultural R&D. This paper explores the potential consequences of such a slowdown in public agricultural R&D expenditures in Brazil, and hence on productivity growth rates, land use, agricultural output, yields, and food prices at both the national and global levels over the 2017–2050 horizon.