Investigation exposes how Brazils huge beef sector continues to threaten health of worlds largest rainforest
The cows grazed under the midday Amazon sun, near a wooden bridge spanning a river. It was an idyllic scene of pastoral quiet, occasionally broken by a motorbike growling on the dirt road that cuts through part of the Lagoa do Triunfo cattle farm to a nearby community.
But this pasture is land that the farm has been forbidden to use for cattle since 2010, when it was embargoed by Brazils government environment agency Ibama for illegal deforestation.Nearby were more signs of fresh pasture: short grass, feeding troughs, and salt for cattle.
The vast 145,000-hectare (358,302-acre) farm is one of several owned by the company AgroSB Agropecuria SA known in the region as Santa Brbara. Located in an environmentally protected area, Lagoa do Triunfo is more than 600km (372 miles) from the capital of the Amazon state of Par on the western fringes of Brazils agricultural frontier where farming eats into the rainforest. To get there takes hours of driving along dirt roads and a ferry ride from nearby So Flix do Xingu, a cattle town accessible only by plane until a few decades ago.
AgroSB supplies cattle to JBS,the worlds biggest meat packing company and single biggest supplier of beef, chicken and leather globally, with 350,000 customers in more than 150 countries.
A joint investigation by the Guardian, Reprter Brasil and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that during 2018, the Lagoa do Triunfo farm delivered hundreds of heads of cattle to other farms also owned by AgroSB for fattening. Cattle was sent from those farms to slaughter in JBS plants.