In this file:
· Cargill promised to end deforestation. It’s telling farmers something else
· Region could feel swine fever blow for next decade, Cargill says
Cargill promised to end deforestation. It’s telling farmers something else
By Nathanael Johnson, Grist
Jul 8, 2019
In 2014, the world’s largest agribusiness, Cargill, announced it would stop buying palm oil, rubber and other commodities from farmers who cut down forests to grow their crops. Around the world, environmentalists applauded, political leaders cheered, and corporate executives scurried to come up with their own plans to follow the company’s lead.
But while Cargill tells the international community that it will end deforestation in every part of the world its business touches, some farmers have received a different message. A letter sent from Cargill to soy farmers in Brazil on June 24 makes the case against efforts to protect forests, saying the company wouldn’t support a moratorium on deforestation in woodlands of the Cerrado, a swath of central Brazil larger than Alaska. Efforts to limit climate change depend on dramatically reversing the trend of deforestation.
Cargill did not respond to requests for comment, but the letter suggests that the company thinks the farmers would simply find another buyer if the company stuck to its promise. Cargill’s CEO, David MacLennan, echoed this sentiment in a blog post last month. “If Cargill alone takes action, the same practices that exist today will continue.”
In the same letter to Brazillian farmers, Cargill also said that it will spend $30 million on finding alternative ways of protecting the Cerrado, and that it remains committed to the goal of ending deforestation.
That’s not how Glenn Hurowitz, the CEO of the environmental group Mighty Earth, sees it. Mighty Earth has been pressing Cargill to fulfill its commitment, alternately offering solutions and threatening to crucify the company in the press. Hurowitz said he’d work to ensure that other big agribusiness companies followed Cargill’s lead if it demonstrated the kind of leadership it promised in 2014. Hurowitz said that MacLennan told him in February that Cargill would support a moratorium on deforestation, but never made his subordinates follow through.
“MacLennan simply is not willing to choose between producers — the deforesters — and its customers like McDonald’s and Unilever that want to end deforestation,” Hurowitz said. “We’ve worked with dozens of corporations and we’ve never experienced this level of CEO involvement but complete and utter inability to deliver. It’s been an extraordinary display of incoherence and ineptitude.”
To understand why this is such a big deal, you have to understand that Cargill has the ability to shift the whole food system to a more sustainable path. Picture the modern food system as an hourglass. Large at the top, with billions of farmers across the globe coaxing calories from the soil, and even bigger at the bottom, with restaurants and grocery stores feeding just about everyone on earth.
Cargill lives in the narrow space between the two, right in the middle of it all. It’s a part of the food system dominated by five giant corporations known as the ABCDs — Archers Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill, Cofco (owned by the Chinese government), and Louis Dreyfus. If you want to move food from one country to another — soy, wheat, corn, vegetable oil, sugar, what have you — you’re probably going to need their trucks, storehouses, and ships. By one estimate, the five giants control 90 percent of the international grain trade. And the biggest of the bunch isis privately owned, 150-year-old Cargill, based in Minnesota.
Back in 2014, Cargill wasn’t just promising to stop leveling forests itself: They were promising they wouldn’t buy from anyone who did. That would create pressure on the others to do the same, and indeed, the other ABCDs all issued their own “no-deforestation” policies in the following years. If all these companies followed through, it would be nearly impossible for anyone to plug into the global economy to profit off the destruction of forests. As Grist wrote at the time: “This is huge.”
But if you are looking for results, you’re going to be disappointed...
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Region could feel swine fever blow for next decade, Cargill says
Mario Parker & Isis Almeida, Bloomberg
via Macau Daily Times - July 8, 2019
It could be as long as a decade before China recovers from its outbreak of African swine fever, the deadly pig disease that’s decimating hog herds in the world’s largest pork consumer.
That’s according to Cargill Inc., one of the world’s largest agricultural commodity traders. The virus, which kills most infected pigs within 10 days, has already spread to most Chinese provinces. Official reports of a 24% decline for the nation’s herd are “conservative,” said John Fering, managing director for Cargill’s premix and nutrition business in the Asian nation.
China’s hog-herd losses are tough to estimate and could be anywhere between 20% and 70%, according to Rabobank.
“This is not a short-term event,” Fering said by phone. “This is going to take several years, if not a decade, to fully achieve structural recovery.”
The virus was first reported in China in August. Since then, there have been more than 140 outbreaks, forcing the nation to boost meat imports. While the government has tightened animal-safety controls, the structure of the country’s hog industry, with many backyard operations, has made it harder to stop the spread of disease.
China has boosted its pork imports, but demand has also increased for other meats in substitution. The nation’s consumers “aren’t discriminating between a disease that only affects the hog and what can be transmitted to humans,” turning them off from wanting to eat pork and reducing consumption, Mizuho said in a report last month.
“Substitution to alternative sources is one part of the solution to close the gap” between protein supply and demand, Fering said. Poultry is likely to be the top beneficiary, both in terms of China’s domestic market and overseas, he said. Eggs will come second, followed by beef and aquaculture.
The switch to poultry is helping to keep China’s demand for soybean meal from cratering, Fering said. Prices are also attractive relative to other vegetable proteins, helping keep soy meal in feed rations, he said...