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Brazilian Coalition publishes study on Brazil’s beef chain traceability

It is possible to monitor the origin of meat in the Amazon and the Cerrado – this is the main conclusion of the beef chain traceability study that the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture launches today during the Climate Week in New York, a parallel event to the UN General Assembly that seeks to draw attention to the urgency of climate action. Follow Coalition’s event here.

Through the integration of information between the Animal Transit Guide (GTA), the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) and the respective legal mechanisms that allow their joint validation, and following the requirements established by the agreements signed under the Cattle and Buffalo Identification and Certification System (SISBOV) and by the Terms of Conduct Adjustment (TACs) between the Federal Prosecution Service (MPF) and the meat processors operating in the Legal Amazon, Brazil can guarantee the production of beef free from illegal deforestation.

“Across the world, there is a growing pressure for the right to know the origin and conditions of how what we consume was produced. Nobody wants to buy products made in degrading human conditions, for example. Nor a production is accepted at the expense of the environment,” compares André Guimarães, co-facilitator of the Brazilian Coalition. “Just as Brazilian agribusiness is highly competitive in productivity, we are equally competitive in the ability to produce without illegal deforestation and what this study shows is that we have a way to prove it”, points out Marcello Brito, also co-facilitator of the Brazilian Coalition.

The study was prepared by the Agrosuisse consultancy and coordinated by the Coalition’s Beef Traceability Taskforce, formed by representatives of the following organizations: Brazilian Beef Exporters Association (ABIEC), Brazilian Agribusiness Association (Abag), EQAO, Brazilian Roundtable on Sustainable Livestock (GTPS), Institute of Forestry and Agriculture Management and Certification (Imaflora), Arapyaú Institute, Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), JBS, Marfrig Global Foods, Partnerships for Forests – P4F, Solidaridad Network, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Vicente and Maciel Law Firm: Environmental Consultancy and WWF Brazil.

It has been long since the consumer seeks to understand where the meat they consume comes from. Efforts to implement a traceability system in the beef chain in Brazil began in 2000, resulting in the creation of SISBOV in 2002 and TACs with meatpacking plants in 2009. In 2020, major players in the sector announced additional measures to ensure that their products are free from illegal deforestation. In order to support proposals to improve these systems, the Brazilian Coalition invested in the study “Beef Chain Traceability in Brazil: Challenges and Opportunities,” which includes 42 recommendations for strengthening environmental meat quality control.

“The animal protein industry is already working to make its production as sustainable as possible and this report is one more element to help us in this agenda”, comments Márcio Nappo, Sustainability Director at JBS and leader of the Coalition’s Beef Traceability Taskforce. “We are confident that there will be great adhesion by producers to this transformation of our activity, given that such a change will ensure more consumer markets and also the necessary environmental preservation for the completion of our activity,” he adds.

Although it confirms the complexity of the Brazilian beef chain, as well as the need to improve the traceability and monitoring controls in order to meet the demands of the domestic and foreign markets, in addition to advances in the technological area, the report notes the development of innovations capable of ensuring the availability of the information and data necessary to allow the improvement of production control and traceability systems. The study also considered the context of the beef chain in the world and in Brazil, comparing the situation of national traceability and monitoring systems with the other countries that produce meat for export, as well as the results of SISBOV and TACs. TACs were an important first step, but it is not enough to enforce industry control over its supply chain. Brazil needs more robust tracking systems to separate “bad apples” from serious producers.

The study recommends establishing steps for the work. The first being the incentive for animal suppliers to be able to meet the environmental quality control requirements for meat, which would result in a list of “premium” suppliers. The second step is that the environmental quality control of meat could be incorporated into the legislation and sector standards. In this context, it would be up to the actors in the chain to establish governance systems for the initiatives that support the new standards, including the industry’s adoption of a single database as a guideline for the control of “premium” suppliers, as well as the contractual obligation that these suppliers use the same database to track their animal purchases. The counterpart for such obligations must be the reward of the environmental quality of the meat.

“The large animal protein producing industry has already signed international sustainability commitments that require more accurate and consistent practices, systems and tools, as the recommendations in this report point out. Now we need to take action and implement these commitments”, analyzes Bianca Nakamato, Conservation Analyst at WWF-Brazil and Taskforce leader. “Showing that production is not linked to the environmental degradation of Brazilian biomes and does not subject human beings to degrading conditions is a basic requirement for the sector to meet an increasing demand of the international market and of Brazilian consumers”, she adds.

The report also recommends the chain monitoring consolidation by integrating information from GTAs, CAR and Environmental Licensing through the creation of territorial databases based on criteria of the Monitoring Protocol for Cattle Suppliers and the integrated performance of state health surveillance agencies, aiming at the effective sanitary and environmental control of meat. Dissemination of technology, establishment of goals and deadlines, land tenure regularization of producers participating in vertical integration projects and incentive to access credit programs aimed at adopting good agricultural practices and the Low Carbon Agriculture Plan (Plano ABC) are recommended by the report as well. Consumer communication, in turn, would be up to retailers.

“Beef Chain Traceability in Brazil: Challenges and Opportunities” is the result of the Possible Amazon initiative, launched at the 2019 Climate Week in New York, when the fight against illegality was chosen as the greatest urgency for the sustainable development of the region, focusing on the traceability of animal protein production.

Click on the hyperlinks to access the documents
• Full paper in Portuguese
• Executive Summary in Portuguese
• Full paper in English
• Executive Summary in English

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