The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, playing a crucial role in regulating the world’s oxygen and carbon cycles. But cattle driven deforestation and land grabbing directly threatens the Amazon and its thousands of wildlife and greenery species and Indigenous communities who live there. And Brazil is not alone — studies suggest that cattle ranching and animal feed production is currently responsible for 80% of deforestation across the Latin America and Caribbean region.
But while Indigenous communities and their global allies were fighting to protect the sacred rainforest, a large multilateral development bank was considering providing financial support to a major Amazon’s destroyer. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) was busy preparing a $200 million loan package to Marfrig Global Foods — the world’s second largest beef producer — known for buying cattle from ranchers illegally clear-cutting the Amazon. The IDB is also partially funded by the U.S. government, meaning our tax dollars could have contributed to the rampant acceleration of deforestation in the Amazon.
In 2018, Marfrig paid large fines due to corruption charges, and its cattle suppliers have also been linked to human rights abuses. Marfrig even admitted that they cannot verify the source of 40% of its indirect production in Brazil, meaning they can’t guarantee that cattle ranchers linked to illegal deforestation or human rights violations are excluded from its supply chain.
So when Friends of the Earth found out about the proposed loan, we joined together with allies from the Divest Factory Farming Coalition to take action. We mobilized over 280 global environmental, animal welfare, human rights and development advocacy groups to send a public letter denouncing the loan, citing how it could fuel further deforestation and land grabbing in Brazil. Friends of the Earth and our allies in the Divest Factory Farming Campaign also organized social media campaigns and sent direct emails to the Bank’s government shareholders. And over 36,000 Friends of the Earth members signed petitions to stop Marfrig from destroying the Amazon.
And, thankfully, that mounting pressure led to action! In February 2022, we learned that IDB was no longer considering the $200 million loan package to Marfrig — a huge setback in Marfrig’s efforts to get public money to pay for their greenwashing operations in Brazil!
This win is a huge source of encouragement for the global campaign to get public development banks to shift their investments away from industrial livestock. And with your support, we can continue to hold corporations accountable for their roles in the destruction and degradation of our tropical rainforests!