Will meat-packing plants help halt deforestation in the Amazon?

Authors: Ritaumaria Pereira*, Amazon Institute of People and the Environment, Paulo Barreto, Amazon Institute of People and the Environment, Amintas Brandão Jr., UW-Madison, Sara Baima, Imazon
Topics: Environment
Keywords: Amazon, Cattle, supply chain, zero-deforestation,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Studio 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The meat-packing plants that purchase cattle in the Amazon have been pressured by environmental campaigns and lawsuits to fight the deforestation practiced by ranchers. This paper aims to show if, seven years after first agreement, meat-packing plants can in fact contribute towards eliminating deforestation in the region. Using government data and satellite images, we found 157 meat-packing plants registered under Federal (SIF) and State (SIE) Inspection, which were responsible for 93% of slaughters in 2016 in the Brazilian Amazon. Plants mapped in the Brazilian Amazon belonged to 110 companies. Results show that meat-packing plants registered under SIF have, on average, slaughter capacity of 708 animals/day, and travel, 360 km to purchase cattle, which demand around 580 thousand hectares of pasture to supply its annual demand. A meat-packing plant with SIE can slaughter, on average, 181 animals/day, traveling a maximum distance of 153 km and would need 25% of the pasture area of a packing plant registered with SIF. We estimated that the potential cattle supply zones overlap to 88% of the area deforested from 2010-2015 and to about 90% of the areas at greater risk for deforestation from 2016-2018 (of a total of 1.68 million hectares of forests). Demanding that the 110 meat-packing companies – which are the doors to the market – follow the law or commit to zero deforestation seems to be a more promising path to reducing deforestation than individually inspecting tabs on the 390 thousand ranchers.

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