This article examines the effect of agricultural modernization on conflict over land. We show that the expansion of a capital- and land-intensive agricultural sector induced by economic liberalization in the mid-90s in Brazil led to an increase in cases of contested land. Traditional communities were particularly active in this surge of land disputes. We find empirical support for a mechanism involving a reduction of informally accessible land, and an increase in land inequality and rural unemployment. Moreover, our results suggest a role for employment opportunities in industry in mitigating conflict. Additional findings indicate that leaders mobilized the land-poor and that mobilization advanced land redistribution by the government.