Brazilian cattle producers standardize audits to exclude deforestation from supply chain

December 18, 2013

Brazil's largest cattle producers have agreed to standardize and make public their audits as part of an effort to exclude from their supply chains livestock produced via deforestation, reports Greenpeace, which has led a campaign to improve the environmental performance of the sector.

The agreement on a standard auditing protocol means that the companies' progress toward eliminating deforestation will now be directly comparable. The companies — JBS, Marfrig and Minerva, which represent 60 percent of the Brazilian market — will also make the results of the audits public, improving transparency in the sector, according to Greenpeace.

"The slaughterhouses will also publish their plan to comply fully with the agreement they made, including milestones and deadlines. That way we - and their customers - can keep an eye on their progress," said the activist group in a post on the Greenpeace UK blog. "Not only will everyone know if they are lagging behind, but we'll know who is ahead of schedule - and companies are likely to buy more beef from slaughterhouses that are ahead of the game."

The move is significant because cattle ranching is the single biggest driver of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, accounting for roughly two-thirds of forest clearing in recent decades. Cleaning up the sector has been notoriously difficult due to poor governance and widespread illegality. But a breakthrough came in 2009, when Greenpeace linked leather, beef, and other cattle products produced via deforestation to some of the world's most prominent brands. Uproar from consumers and major consumer products companies, coupled with a crackdown by local authorities, forced Brazilian cattle giants to the negotiating table, where they eventually signed an agreement that would commit them to excluding livestock produced via deforestation and slave labor.

AUTHOR: Rhett Butler founded Mongabay in 1999. He currently serves as president, head writer, and chief editor.

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Brazilian cattle producers standardize audits to exclude deforestation from supply chain.