Brazilian meatpackers accused of buying cattle from ranches using slaves
During the first week of January, six Brazilian meatpackers were found to have purchased cattle from ranches that used slave labor. Two notable processors included in this group were JBS SA, one of the world’s largest meat processing companies, and Minerva SA, Brazil’s fourth-largest beef processing company.
According to Reporter Brasil, an independent research group focused on environmental and labor issues, there were more than a dozen instances where these six beef processors knowingly slaughtered cattle that most likely originated from operations flagged for severe worker abuse in recent years.
JBS purchased cattle from two ranches that later ended up on Brazil’s “dirty list,” a rolling government database that lists companies who have employed slave labor. JBS banned the two ranches once they were on the list, but the meat processor told Reporter Brasil that it wasn’t fair to expect them to stop working with ranchers that have been accused of slave labor because those ranches deserve the right to defend their actions.
In Brazil, employers have the right to defend themselves in front of a panel when labor inspectors rescue their workers. If found guilty, the employer’s name is then added to the “dirty list.” When an employer is added to this list, their business cannot receive state loans and they also have restrictions put on their sales. The “dirty list” is considered one of Brazil’s most powerful anti-slavery tools, however Brazilian meatpackers can’t rely on the list to guarantee clean supply chains. Slavery in the Brazilian meat industry is widespread and the list only contains the names of those who are unlucky enough to get caught, according to Xavier Plassat, head of the Pastoral Land Commission anti-slavery campaign.
In 2000, the Pastoral Land Commission conducted a survey in Brazil that discovered there were more than 25,000 forced workers and slaves in Brazil. In 2014, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs issued a List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor where Brazil was classified as one of the 74 countries still involved in child labor and forced labor practices. In 2017, a report released by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy suggested thousands of workers in Brazil’s meat and poultry sectors were victims of forced labor and inhumane work conditions.
Despite these reports, John Carter of Casterville, TX claims these allegations of slave labor are false. “These accusations come from globalists who are working to control social and environmental movements,” he said. Carter ranches near Casterville and also manages properties in Brazil. He lived in Brazil from 1996 to 2012 managing one of his wife’s family ranches located in the Amazon frontier in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.
While in Brazil, Carter saw federal police attack his neighbors during raids that were sent in supposedly for slave labor, but during his time in Brazil, he never saw one slave. “Labor laws in Brazil are very rigorous and extremely costly. Farmers and ranchers have unregistered workers because of the high taxes imposed on their workers. This pushes people into illegality where they have unregistered workers to avoid the socialist system. These workers are considered slave labor, but in reality this is extremely inaccurate,” stated Carter.
Much like in the U.S., the number of independent farmers and ranchers in Brazil is quickly decreasing. A major cause of this is nonprofit organizations and globalists using slave labor to attack competition so the larger operators can take control, resulting in Brazil’s cattle industry moving one step closer to vertical integration, he said. “This is a Marxist tactic. They attack private property and free enterprise by using social justice, which in the end they truly don’t care about,” said Carter.
Gabriel Maranho Maia lives in Presidente Prudente, west of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and ranches on his family’s ranch in Paraguay. Like Carter, Maia has never experienced slave labor in the cattle industry. “Labor laws in Brazil are increasingly strict and efficient nowadays, which results in ranch owners either being arrested or facing a large penalty if they do partake in slave labor,” stated Maia.
Through the years, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), National Geographic, The Washington Post and other influential groups and publications have made accusations, blaming the burning of the Amazon rainforest on Brazilian ranchers. According to Maia, these accusations are false. “The fact is that the Amazon rainforest doesn’t catch fire, what burns is around the outside of the forest and it’s criminals who are burning, not farmers and ranchers,” stated Maia. Brazil’s agricultural production is one of the most sustainable in the world with over 60 percent of their protected areas being natural resources; Brazilian ranchers are obligated to include these natural resources in their operations, he said.
Brazil is the largest beef exporter in the world. In 2020, Brazilian beef exports rose 8 percent to 2.02 million metric tons; revenue from these increased exports rose to $8.4 billion, up 11 percent from 2019. USDA predicts Brazilian beef production will reach approximately 10.5 million metric tons in 2021.
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