Responsible soy production

Supporting soy farmers and promoting sustainability

Benito Guerrero, The Nature Conservancy.

"In Santarém, we were able to stabilize the deforestation in six years. I don’t know of any other company that is helping its suppliers get into compliance.”

Benito Guerrero, The Nature Conservancy

In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Cargill is providing on-the-ground support to farmers in the Santarém region to comply with the Brazilian Forest Code. Since 2004, our Sustainable Soy Partnership has helped farmers apply best management practices in environmental stewardship and provide training in reforestation and restoration techniques.

The conservation rules in the Amazon are some of the strictest in the world.  Under the Brazilian Forest Code farmers must preserve forest on 80 percent of their land – even if it was cleared many decades before.  Poorly defined property rights and a lack of government resources have meant it has been difficult to enforce.

Today, 383 farms in the Santarém area are registered with the Para state government and have received their CAR (Rural Environmental Registry). This means they all have been evaluated by The Nature Conservancy for compliance with conservation laws and have official environmental registration with the state government. Cargill only purchases from those farms that have obtained a CAR.

Cargill News. Amazon Report.

Cargill News, Cargill's employee magazine, regularly features stories on responsible supply chains. Read the following stories: In the Green Zone or Good Neighbors (PDFs). 

Every farm that supplies our soy terminal in Santarém is monitored – across a total area of 9.6 million hectares. After undertaking an initial process to map the boundaries of each farm and their legal status, satellite imagery and field visits are now used to detect any changes to land use and to make sure farmers keep to the rules.

Zero deforestation in Santarém region

The success of the partnership is evident from the fact there has been zero deforestation in the Santarém area since 2006.

The project has also helped the government understand what can be achieved. The Nature Conservancy is now an official partner with the government of Pará, the state where Santarém is located. It is working to provide a database and technical support so the government can take over the satellite monitoring. 

This project has shown Ecological-Economic Zoning – mapping and classifying land for preservation or development – is possible.  This Zoning has been approved by both the state and federal governments, and has been welcomed by farmers’ groups.

Santarém terminal.
Watch the video, Amazon report: a conservation success, to see how Cargill’s work with TNC in Brazil is striking the right balance between economic development and environmental conservation.
Expanding a successful program

In August 2011, we announced a $3 million grant to enable The Nature Conservancy to expand and build on the success of the program. This partnership is enabling a pioneering program supporting environmental legalization for soy producers in Santarém. 

Over the next three years the program will be expanded to pilot and test monitoring systems for environmental impacts beyond deforestation, such as pesticide use and water quality. It will also extend the initiative to reach farmers in up to 20 additional municipalities in the state of Mato Grosso, covering an additional 15 million hectares of land, including approximately 2.5 million hectares planted in soy, that are most at risk from planned road improvements.

This new commitment will allow The Nature Conservancy to continue to monitor deforestation using satellite imagery and field visits to detect any changes to land use and to help farmers meet forest code requirements. Additionally, it will provide on-the-ground assistance to enable farmers in the Santarém region to obtain a legally required license for rural activities, known locally as LAR. This will serve as an important model for the Pará state government to expand its licensing efforts.

The $3 million commitment will also enable the launch of a new effort to promote cocoa production in the communities of Tucumã and São Félix do Xingu in Pará state. Cocoa production is native to the Amazon biome and it offers an opportunity to restore deforested lands, while presenting small-scale farmers with an economically viable alternative to land speculation and cattle ranching.