FEFAC backs extension of soy moratorium but says new deforestation policing model 'has teeth'

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Brazil

FEFAC backs extension of soy moratorium but says new deforestation policing model 'has teeth'
EU feed industry body, FEFAC, has welcomed the move by soy players in Brazil to extend the soy moratorium in the Amazon region until May 2016 but says the monitoring mechanism to replace that voluntary pact is robust.

Soy processors have also agreed to not trade or buy soybeans produced in the Amazon region deforested after July 2008. And satellite monitoring will be used to ensure this pledge is adhered to, said ABIOVE, Brazil's soy crushing industry association.

FEFAC said it recognizes that the soy moratorium has made a major contribution in ensuring a reduction in deforestation in Brazil since its introduction in 2006. Prior to the moratorium, soy accounted for roughly a fifth of recent deforestation, while today its share is less than 1%.

The extension and new expiry date for the moratorium, originally expected to end this month, is set to coincide with official deadlines for land registration and compliance with Brazil's new Forest Code, changed amid global controversy in 2012.

New monitoring system ‘has teeth’

One of the weaknesses of the soy moratorium is that it is a voluntary code, said FEFAC general secretary, Alexander Döring. He told us the mechanism to replace it  “has teeth”​ and represents a “quality step forward.”

“We see the federal monitoring of farms under the rural environmental registration ​(CAR), in tandem with the even tighter environmental commitments required of farmers under the revised Forest Code, as a real breakthrough in terms of enabling responsible soy production. 

Under the soy moratorium, while there were various degrees of enforcement at state or regional level on deforestation, there was certainly not the kind of centralized, federal oversight that is due to come into force from January 2015. 

Through the revised Forest Code, the Brazilian ministry of the environment will be able to blacklist farms that are not in compliance with their environmental obligations under CAR, and ABIOVE has pledged not to source soybeans from those producers,” ​he said. 

But Döring said FEFAC is pleased the phase out of the soy moratorium has been stretched out to allow for the alignment of state and federal farm registration systems in the interim.

He said the Federation is committed to ongoing discussions with its soy partners in Brazil to ensure that the ”new transition agreement”​ can meet its objectives and continue the success story of the soy moratorium by helping to achieve zero net deforestation in high-value conservation areas. 

Soy crusher group to aid farmer compliance  

Last month saw ABIOVE release new guidance on the implementation of the Forest Code in order to help soy farmers reach compliance with its requirements.

FEFAC has been engaged with the soy crusher association to ensure the guidelines, the Soja Plus program, take into account the EU trade group's draft minimum criteria for the import of responsible soy, said Döring.

“And the FEFAC expert group on responsible soy production will be putting that guidance to further scrutiny at a meeting next week​,” he added.   

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