Brazilian firm gains Rainforest Alliance recognition

By Arabella Mileham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Brazil Livestock

One of the largest organic meat producers in Latin America has become the first company in the world to be awarded Rainforest Alliance certification for sustainable cattle production.

Four ranches in western Brazil belonging to Fazendas São Marcelo, part of Grupo JD, have met the strict criteria set out by the certification scheme. It was developed by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) to promote the humane treatment of livestock and conservation of natural resources in response to deforestation, which is largely driven by cattle grazing. The certification was carried out by SAN’s representative in Brazil, IMAFLORA.

Together, the ranches cover around 79,000 acres in the State of Mato Grosso, and include a 32,000-acre reserve within the Amazon protected area, which acts as a wildlife habitat and buffer for the forests. The pasture land, which is sustainably managed to prevent soil degradation and has tree cover providing shelter from high temperatures, wind and rain, contains around 60,000 extensively grazing cattle, which are fed on an easily digestible, natural diet to reduce methane emissions. They also benefit from on-farm medical treatments and vaccination stations.

Around 50% of Grupo JD’s herd at Fazendas São Marcelo is farmed according to organic methods.

Arnaldo Eijsink, CEO of Grupo JD told GlobalMeatNews that the company has been working to find a sustainable way of production for the last 10 years. “Innovation is the key factor to produce more with less resource,​” he said.  

Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance, said that agricultural conversion for cattle production is the leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon, and that the achievement of Fazendas São Marcelo set “a shining example to ranchers across Latin America, demonstrating that cattle, wildlife and the environment can co-exist.​”

Luís Fernando Guedes Pinto, manager of agriculture certification at IMAFLORA, said: “Fazendas São Marcelo’s certification breaks a paradigm and shows that large-scale cattle production can be carried out in accordance with good pasture management, the humane treatment of animals, the conservation of natural resources and respect for workers and communities.”

As part of the company’s strategy, it also provides training and education for the families of workers, training the wives of the predominantly male workforce in craft and artisanal cooking, as well as supporting local schools. There is a small school for workers’ children in the most rural of the four farms.

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