Farm workers supplying the world’s largest meat companies reportedly charged 8 pounds a day and were housed in huts without toilets or running water.
According to a new study, Brazilian firms and slaughterhouses, including the world’s largest meat producer JBS, were sourcing cattle from supplier farms that hired workers under slave-like conditions. According to a report by Repórter Brasil, a Brazilian investigative agency, workers on cattle farms that provided slaughterhouses received up to 8 pounds a day and lived in improvised huts without bathrooms, toilets, running water or kitchens. 55,000 Brazilian workers have been saved by government inspectors from “slavery-like situations” since 1995, the study said. While in recent years the number of inquiries has fallen – 118 employees were released in 2018, compared to 1,045 a decade earlier – it does not mean that the situation has changed, just that inspections have been decreased, the report said. “We see this as an urgent problem that the big companies need to solve,” said Marcel Gomes, Repórter Brasil’s executive secretary and editor of the report. The report questions meat companies such as JBS, which has been criticized for its failure to regulate its supply chains from Amazonian cattle farms. A number of investigations by the Guardian, Repórter Brasil, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and others found that the business purchased cattle from so-called “direct suppliers” that were sourced from “indirect suppliers” – farms that supply cattle for fattening and slaughtering – engaged in illegal deforestation. In September, JBS vowed to monitor its entire supply chain by means of illegal deforestation. In 2009, the three firms signed an agreement with Greenpeace agreeing not to purchase cattle from farms engaged in slavery.
Similar deals reached with federal prosecutors kept them from purchasing “dirty list” from farms on an ongoing government to hold employees in slavery-like conditions. Brazilian meat giant JBS agrees to slash deforestation-related suppliersRead moreIn August 2019, government inspectors discovered nine unregistered pastureland clearing workers at the Copacabana Farm in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul in exchange for nine unregistered pastureland clearing workers. In 2019 and 2020, the farm sold cattle directly to two JBS slaughterhouses. Thomazelli’s father, José, who represented his daughter, agreed to register the workers and provide reasonable living conditions in an out-of-court settlement with labor prosecutors. Notes from a meeting with prosecutors noted that he did not admit the presence of “slavery-like labor.” He refused to comment when approached by the Guardian, and his daughter did not respond to an email. JBS said that as soon as they appeared on the “dirty list,” following procedures negotiated with prosecutors, it blocked Copacabana and two other farms mentioned in the report. “We have a zero-tolerance approach to forced labor and urge anyone who suspects or has evidence of individual or farm-related misconduct to report it,” the company said. The report also cited a farm in the state of Tocantins that was sold to another farm in December 2018, two months after it appeared on the “dirty list” for holding a 65-year-old worker in “deplorable conditions.” The organization is investigating the case. “We will take appropriate action if any irregularity is detected,” Minerva said. Minerva is testing a method called Visipec to track indirect suppliers. Sign up for the monthly update of Animals farmed to get a roundup of the best food and agriculture stories from around the world and keep up to date on our investigations.” Your stories and reflections can be submitted to us at [email protected]