Knowledge for better food systems

Success of Zero-Deforestation Agreements in Brazil – Beef industry keen on reducing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon

This paper finds that the introduction of legally binding agreements, signed by ranchers and slaughterhouses in Brazil, have been effective in halting deforestation.

The expansion of cattle pastures to date has led to huge destruction in the Brazilian rainforest.  As a result of government and NGO pressure, several companies have now publicly declared that they will only buy cattle from ranchers have stopped rainforests, and who have registered their properties with Brazil’s rural environmental registry. Some are also committed to set up monitoring systems to track deforestation on their supplying properties. 

The research concludes that while several challenges remain, simultaneous pressure from NGOs and government bodies can be a potent way to change rancher and slaughterhouse behavior, and reduce the amount of deforestation entering the beef supply chain from direct supplying properties.


New supply chain interventions offer promise to reduce deforestation from expansion of commercial agriculture, as more multinational companies agree to stop sourcing from farms with recent forest clearing. We analyzed the zero-deforestation cattle agreements signed by major meatpacking companies in the Brazilian Amazon state of Pará using property-level data on beef supply chains. Our panel analysis of daily purchases by slaughterhouses before and after the agreements demonstrates that they now avoid purchasing from properties with deforestation, which was not the case prior to the agreements. Supplying ranchers registered their properties in a public environmental registry nearly 2 years before surrounding non-supplying properties, and 85% of surveyed ranchers indicated that the agreements were the driving force. In addition, supplying properties had significantly reduced deforestation rates following the agreements. Our results demonstrate important changes in the beef supply chain, but the agreements’ narrow scope and implementation diminish outcomes for forest conservation.


Gibbs, H. K., Munger, J., Roe, J. L., Barreto, P., Pereira, R., Christie, M., Amaral, T., Walker, N. F., 2015. Did Ranchers and Slaughterhouses Respond to Zero-Deforestation Agreements in the Brazilian Amazon? Conservation letters. 0(0), 1–10

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