South America Calling

Brazil Industry Renews Amazon Soy Moratorium, Indefinitely

Brazil's soybean industry has agreed to extend the moratorium on buying soy from the Amazon region indefinitely.

The ban on acquiring and financing soybeans produced on Amazon land cleared after July 2008 has been universally acclaimed as instrumental in breaking the link between soybean farming and deforestation of the forest.

The agreement, signed by industry and environmental NGOs, was first signed 10 years ago amid growing murmurs that Europeans could embargo Brazilian soy because of its role in Amazon clearance.

"The renewal of the moratorium indefinitely ensures producers and trading companies can continue to rely on forest-friendly Amazon soy to keep the doors to the global market open, even in times of environmental and political-economic crisis," said Paulo Adario, senior forest strategist for Greenpeace International and signatory of the agreement.

The system, which is audited via satellite imaging, shows that soybean production accounted for just 0.8% of clearance in the 2014-15 crop year (Oct-Sep).

That isn't to say that soybean production hasn't grown in the Amazon biome, which covers key production areas in the north of Mato Grosso state.

In fact, area has doubled from 4.4 million acres to 8.9 million in 2015, just not on freshly cleared areas.

Following the passing of a new Forestry Code governing farmers' environmental obligations in 2012, the soy industry had planned to end the moratorium.

It was hoped the new law would be strong enough to stand alone.

But before the new code can be imposed, a registry of land must still be created.

In soybean regions, especially in the Amazon basin, that process is nearly complete. However, the government still has to create a system whereby soy purchasers can check they are buying from farms that conform to the Forestry Code.

As such, the industry chose to extend the moratorium, explained Fabio Trigueirinho, general secretary at the Brazilian Soy Industry Association (ABIOVE).

Once such a system is in place, the industry plans to end the moratorium, he said.

The Forestry Code would represent an easing of restrictions as it does allow for limited deforestation on properties. ABIOVE expects that clearance for soybeans will be pretty limited though.

The moratorium and the Forestry Code has relieved much of the environmental pressure that built up on the soy industry during the previous decade.

(CZ)

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