200 NGOs Worldwide Oppose Public Funding of Brazilian Meat Giant Marfrig 

Groups Highlight Marfrig Link to Major Deforestation, Corruption Schemes and Indigenous Rights Violations in Brazil 

Washington, DC — 200 environmental, human rights and development advocacy groups today urged the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to withdraw its proposed Invest loan for Marfrig Global Foods’ (MRFG3.SA) Brazilian beef operations.

In a public letter to its board of directors, the groups denounced the IDB Invest’s $43 million loan proposal, which is intended to leverage a larger $157 million loan package for the world’s second-largest beef company. The loan would support implementation of Marfrig’s “Plano Verde+”, which purports to deliver deforestation-free livestock production by 2025 in the Amazon, and by 2030 in the Cerrado. These are among the most important yet exploited ecosystems in Brazil.

However, letter signatories state that the new IDB loan could open up giant swaths of threatened forest ecosystems for legal and illegal clearing for years to come, citing potential bank policy violations. They also point out that the plan’s loopholes and distant targets, along with Marfrig’s prior failed promises and lack of an effective tracking system for its full supply chain, give the plan little credence. 

“Industrial livestock is a major cause of deforestation, biodiversity loss, water and air pollution, and methane emissions, which together fuel the climate crisis,” said Kari Hamerschlag, Deputy Director of Food and Agriculture at Friends of the Earth U.S. “If IDB-Invest is genuinely committed to tackling climate change, it must drop this loan and stop funding industrial livestock operations in Brazil and around the region.”

According to the IDB, more than 800,000 square kilometers of Amazonian forest has already been destroyed for crop and livestock farming. Clearing land for cattle pasture is responsible for 70% of deforestation across Latin America and the Caribbean. This loan comes at a time of accelerated deforestation and Indigenous rights violations across Brazil under the far-right Bolsonaro regime, which is gutting environmental and social protection laws. 

This letter was sent to IDB shareholders on the eve of the second annual Finance in Common Summit. This year hundreds of public development banks (PDBs) will gather to make unified pledges for meeting global climate and UN Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on “transforming agriculture and agribusiness for food security, adaptation to climate change and biodiversity preservation.” Letter signatories assert that the proposed loan would violate the IDB’s stated commitments to advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and global climate agreements. The IDB is expected to announce its final decision on the Marfrig loan in December 2021. 

In 2020, a report released by Global Witness found Marfrig systematically bought cattle from illegally deforested areas in the Amazon. The company, which owns an 81% stake in the U.S.-based National Beef Packing Company (NBEEF.UL), has also come under fire for corruption, human rights violations and other devastating social and environmental impacts in Brazil.

“Given the significant increase in deforestation in the Amazon driven, in large part, by livestock production, it is unbelievable that so-called green investments continue to be provided to companies like Marfrig,” said Maureen Santos, coordinator of the National Advisory Group of FASE, a leading Brazilian civil society organization founded in 1961. “Opposition to this loan by Brazilian and international civil society is very important to draw attention to this blatant greenwashing.”

“For the IDB, IFC and other development finance institutions to honor their climate commitments, they should cut financing to industrial livestock and instead invest in sustainable food systems and family farms,” said Ladd Connel of the Bank Investment Center.

Opposition to this loan is part of a bigger Divest Factory Farming Campaign, which works in partnership with locally affected communities and organizations to shift development finance away from industrial livestock production. Campaign members include: the Bank Information Center, Brighter Green, Friends of the Earth U.S., Feedback Global, the Global Forest Coalition, International Accountability Project (Early Warning System), Sinergia Animal and World Animal Protection.

Communications contact: Kerry Skiff, [email protected], 202-222-0723

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