Cargill Commits to Mitigate Deforestation, Land Conversion in Crop Supply Chains

Cornfield farmed with regenerative agricultural practices

(Credit: Cargill)

by | Nov 28, 2023

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Cargill said it has made an accelerated commitment to end deforestation and land conversion in its Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay agricultural supply chains by 2025.

The commitment will work to help protect native vegetation and support sustainable agriculture in these countries, which are responsible for about 30% of global trade flows and 13% of production of row crops such as soy, corn, wheat, and cotton. Cargill plans to use the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) geospatial tracing tools to track natural ecosystems and farm areas and will also reportedly continue to support the livelihoods of farmers involved in their agricultural supply chains.

Land Degradation Key Cause of Flooding in Region

The expansion of large-scale agriculture in South America has been found to make its land more vulnerable to flooding, with deforestation and land conversion being major contributors to this issue. With the Amazon comprising about 50% of Earth’s remaining forests, conservation of the region’s ecosystems has become especially pressing.

Cargill has reportedly committed to deforestation-free commodities and conversion-free soy across South America by 2030.

“Getting deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems out of soft commodity supply chains is one of the most significant things a business can do for people, nature, and climate,” said Craig Hanson, managing director of programs at WRI. “Cargill’s new commitment aligns with a vision that it’s possible to produce food while protecting vital ecosystems. Our monitoring expertise should help Cargill achieve this ambitious commitment in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina by 2025.”

Climate Change-Related Impact in Latin American Region, Role of Agriculture Sector

According to a recent survey from the European Investment Bank, climate change and environmental degradation are cited as one of the top challenges for Latin American and Caribbean countries.

91% of respondents, including those from the three countries included in Cargill’s initiative, claimed they feel the effects of climate change in their daily lives, with a majority expecting to have to eventually move to another region. Emissions from deforestation, paired with its high reliance on fossil fuels, have made Latin America’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 seem potentially challenging.

Addressing agriculture-related issues may help make emissions targets viable, especially considering the sector’s massive impact on habitat loss. According to the World Wildlife Fund, beef and soy production alone account for over two-thirds of recorded habitat loss in the Amazon and Cerrado regions of Brazil.

Halting deforestation and land conversion and implementing ecosystem restoration projects may help reverse some of this damage. Along with its initiative to end deforestation and land conversion, Cargill said it is committed to restoring more than 100,000 hectares of altered land in Brazil over the course of five years and has taken steps to revitalize degraded land in other parts of the world as well.

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