Soy & Cattle Tracker Methodology

Conversion in Traders’ and Meatpackers’ Supply Chains in Brazil

Soy & Cattle Rapid Response System  

The Soy and Cattle Tracker monitors large-scale cases of deforestation and conversion in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado. Drawing on the Rapid Response reports produced in collaboration between Mighty Earth and Aidenvironment, cases of deforestation and native vegetation clearance are detected using satellite imagery, and then connected to the supply chains of the largest soy traders and meatpackers in Brazil. These soy traders and meatpackers source from many industrial farms responsible for deforestation and fires in Brazil. Because of their financial relationships with producers and influence over market access, they play a critical role in ensuring soy and cattle supply chains are deforestation and conversion-free. 

The Tracker utilizes data from the Rapid Response system, which identifies large-scale cases of deforestation and conversion in Brazil and beyond. Cases for Rapid Response are selected using satellite-based deforestation alert systems, including the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research’s DETER system as well as World Resources Institute’s GLAD (Global Land Analysis & Discovery) alerts to detect native vegetation clearance in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado biomes. The cases are selected on a regular basis, typically monthly. For each time period, the entirety of deforestation alerts are filtered to the top five municipalities with the most hectares of clearance in both the Amazon and Cerrado. From there, we select between 10-15 properties with the most clearance and the most evident supply chain links to the major soy traders and meatpackers. Occasionally, we also include particularly egregious cases that occur outside of these municipalities, and publish special reports such as our fires report. All cases are visually confirmed using higher resolution imagery of the property to illustrate conversion of the land. The intent of the analysis is to focus on the most egregious cases of deforestation with the strongest supply chain links, as opposed to covering all properties identified in the satellite-based monitoring systems. 

Soy & Cattle Deforestation Tracker 

The Soy & Cattle Tracker displays regularly updated Rapid Response cases and total native vegetation clearance linked to seven major soy traders and three major meatpackers in Brazil. The Tracker includes data beginning as of March 2019 and will be updated periodically. The seven soy traders monitored include Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM), AMAGGI, Bunge, Cargill, COFCO International, Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) – the largest soy exporters by volume in Brazil. The Tracker also monitors ALZ – the joint venture between AMAGGI, LDC and Zen-Noh. For cattle, the tracker monitors clearance connected to the three largest exporting meatpackers by volume in Brazil – JBS, Marfrig and Minerva.

Companies are given a score out of 100 based on the companies’ performance in six categories: total number of linked cases, total native vegetation clearance, total possible illegal clearance, responsiveness to the Rapid Response reports, resolution of linked cases, and transparency. The data and scores will be updated regularly. Further details on how company scores were calculated can be found below.  

 

Soy & Cattle Tracker Methodology 

 

Scoring Criteria  Scoring Details  Total Possible Points  Description 
Linked Rapid Response Cases  If >35 cases=0 pts,  
21-35 cases=5 pts,  
6-20 cases=10 pts,  
<6 cases=15 pts 
15  The more Rapid Response cases that have been connected to the soy trader or meatpacker, the fewer points the company receives 
Native Vegetation Clearance (ha)  If >40,000 ha=0 pts,
38,000-40,000 ha=1 pt,
36,000-38,000 ha=2 pts,
0-2,000 ha=20 pts 
20  Total native vegetation clearance is measured in hectares (ha) and includes clearance native vegetation, such as wooded savanna found in the Cerrado and rainforest in the Amazon 
Possible Illegal Clearance (ha)  If >20,000 ha=0 pts,
19,000-20,000 ha=1 pt,
18,000-19,000 ha=2 pts, 
0-1,000 ha=20 pts 
20  Possible illegal clearance is measured in hectares (ha) and includes deforestation that is inside a Legal Reserve or Permanent Preservation Area (APP) ​ according to the mandatory CAR declaration as part of the Brazilian Forest Code (Law 12.651/2012.) However, illegal clearance is framed as “possible” since producers can obtain government authorization for clearance within these protected areas. 
Responsiveness   Multiplied 15 by % of Rapid Response cases that the company responded to and disclosed whether or not they have supply chain links to the case  15  If company responded but did not fully address our request to disclose supply chain links, 0 points were given. Often, more responsive companies disclosed more supply chain connections; therefore, this criterion ensures companies are given points for more transparency 
Resolution of Cases  Multiplied 15 by % of Rapid Response cases resolved by company  15  Once a case is considered resolved by the company, the case is removed from hectares of clearance, possible illegal clearance and linked cases. Cases are resolved if the supplier is suspended, adopts a no-conversion commitment and moratorium on conversion, or if the trader or meatpacker provides verifiable evidence needed to close the case. 
Transparency  Multiplied 15 by % of linked cases publicly disclosed in a grievance log  15  This criterion represents whether companies are publicly disclosing their linked Rapid Response cases and their actions to address them in a formal grievance log on the company’s website 
Total    100   

 

Note: Our 2020 Fires Report (Report 18) only focused on fires not conversion; therefore, the cases from this report did not count toward total or illegal deforestation scores but did count towards all other criteria. 

 

Definition of Linked Rapid Response Cases 

We attribute conversion on a property to a trader or meatpacker when the company has known supply chain links to either the property in question, the owning group/s, or producer. This definition covers all of the following types of linkages: 

  1. The trader/meatpacker confirmed that the supplier is either a direct or indirect supplier 
  2. The trader/meatpacker doesn’t source directly from the farm in question, but has sourced from other farms owned by the same supplier 
  3. The trader/meatpacker hasn’t sourced from the supplier this harvest season, but either has sourced from them in the recent past, or the supplier is registered in their system and therefore the company could source from the supplier in the future 
  4. The trader/meatpacker confirms the property is a supplier but suggest the deforestation is related to another commodity that is also produced on the farm  
  5. The trader/meatpacker buys from a supplier who doesn’t own the land, but rents land on the property  
  6. The trader/meatpacker buys another commodity from the supplier/property (e.g. corn, cotton) 
  7. The property is owned by the subsidiary of the trader/meatpacker 

 

Level of Certainty 

The level of certainty describes how certain our research is that a trader or meatpacker is linked to a case. Only cases with medium or high degrees of certainty are displayed in the Tracker, either based on our own research or confirmation from the company. The cases confirmed by the companies are also displayed and marked with a “Yes” in the company response column. We included cases with direct property links and cases with links to just the producer or owning group/s. For company-confirmed cases, the level of certainty of our research is not relevant given the traders confirmed the case themselves and was left as “N/A” unless our research had previously indicated a medium or high-level connection.  

 

High Level of Certainty  SOY  Soy traders’ relationship with the supplier and the property under deforestation alert is confirmed  Traders’ replies from previous reports, traders’ public reports, investigation by local partners (undisclosed source) 
Traders have assets/infrastructure within the farm boundaries  Official government data on location of warehouses (Ministry of Agriculture – SICARM) 
Relationship between producer, property and trader confirmed by the governmental soy subsidy program within the last 2 years  National Food Supply Company (CONAB) 
CATTLE  Direct cattle supplying links  Cattle Transportation Records (GTA system) 
Medium Level of Certainty  SOY  Soy traders’ relationship with the supplier/group, but not with the property under deforestation alert, is confirmed  Traders’ replies from previous reports, traders’ public reports, investigation by local partners (undisclosed source) 
Relationship between producer, property and trader was confirmed by the governmental soy subsidy program more than 2 years ago  National Food Supply Company (CONAB) 
Relationship between producer, property and trader was confirmed by the governmental cotton/corn/rice subsidy program within the last 2 years  National Food Supply Company (CONAB) 
CATTLE  Indirect supplier connections and/or connections to linked properties   Cattle Transportation Records (GTA system) 

  

Key Definitions 

Deforestation and land clearance - Any land use change classified as loss of native vegetation by deforestation alert systems ​ 

Forest Code protected areas - Areas defined by the Brazilian Forest Code that have mandatory conservation status on private properties (Law 12.651/2012.)These include Legal Reserves [80% Amazonia biome, 35% Cerrado biome inside Legal Amazon, 20% other areas] and Permanent Preservation Areas (APP) linked to water and soil conservation (close to riverbeds, wetlands, slopes, and hills.) The Legal Reserve and APP areas considered in this report are those self-declared within the Cadastro Ambiental Rural (CAR) system – Brazil’s environmental registration system. In some cases, the CAR was also used to find information on ownership because even if it is a self-declared document, sometimes, it provides the most recent information on the probable ownership of a property​ 

Possible illegal deforestation - Deforestation that is inside a Legal Reserve or Permanent Preservation Area (APP) ​ 

Illegal deforestation – Any deforestation event occurring without authorization from the state or Federal Environmental Agency that is inside a Legal Reserve or Permanent Preservation Area (APP) ​ 

Natural Reserves - Officially recognized Natural Reserves according to the National System of Natural Reserves (SNUC – Sistema Nacional de Unidades de Conservação). The SNUC determines jurisdiction of the area – federal, state or local government, or private owner – and how the natural resources may be used by whom in each of the natural reserves’ categories​ 

Methodology

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The Rapid Response program has received support, in part, from the International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) scheme managed by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). This report does not necessarily reflect the standpoints of Norad.​ 

The work of Mighty Earth is supported by Waxman Strategies. Waxman Strategies’ work on forest conservation is funded in part by Aidenvironment. Waxman is required under 22 U.S.C. § 614 to disclose that this material is distributed on behalf of the aforementioned organization, working under grant from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. Additional information is on file with the Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 

Disclaimer

At the time of publication and at the time of the clearance events, Fazenda São José Parcela 06, Parcela 07, Parcela 10 and Parcela 24 cases were under ownership of JJF Holding de Investimentos e Participações/José Valter Dias and connected to Cargill, Bunge and ALZ — all of which have silos on JJF Holding property according to publicly available information. However, the Brazilian court recently ordered JJF Holding/José Valter Dias to release these land titles as result of a land grabbing lawsuit against the company. We anticipate the linked traders to continue any trading relationships with soy producers on formerly JJF properties due to the location of their silos. We will maintain a medium level of certainty of a connection to these cases until traders prove otherwise. Bunge, Cargill and ALZ have previously denied any connections to JJF Holding.