This week, the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA) organized a Meeting of South American Soybean and Maize Entities. The aim was to debate the impact of the European Union’s anti-deforestation laws on export chains.
The debate included Brazilian farmers as well as those from Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. Technical and international experts also supported the discussion. “As representatives of the productive sector, we understand that this law is discriminatory and could have effects contrary to sustainability, potentially eliminating small producers,” said Maciel Silva, CNA’s deputy technical director.
Ricardo Arioli, president of the National Cereals, Fibers and Oilseeds Commission, emphasized the importance of uniting Mercosur farmers and highlighted the sector’s challenges: “Agriculture is the activity that suffers most from extreme weather events, and the producer is the main ally in the fight against climate change. Our agriculture is sustainable,” he said.
He also said that only through cooperation, a team-oriented approach, and technical alignment, will it be possible to address global issues such as trade, food security, and climate change. Airoli highlighted the need to consider all the players involved in these actions, which is a smarter way forward than shifting costs and responsibilities.
The European Anti-Deforestation Law
Brazilian and South American producers are concerned about the European Union’s new anti-deforestation legislation. The measure aims to ban the import and trade in the European bloc of products derived from certain commodities – cattle, soy, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, wood and rubber – that come from deforested areas after December 31, 2020.
South America is responsible for producing 190.1 million tons of soybeans and 17.58 million tons of corn, which represent 51.3% and 15.2% of world production respectively.
Producers in South American countries say they already follow very strict local legislation to export their products sustainably and without deforestation. They are also asking to be heard in this type of agreement. “We need to join forces to show that we are not indifferent to everything that is happening at EU level,” said Maciel Silva.
Among the challenges listed by representatives from Argentina and Uruguay are the social and economic impacts that the new requirements could have on farmers. The group has prepared a collective statement on the issue.
At the end of the two-day meeting, the group prepared a manifesto questioning European legislation. The document is signed by the Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil (CNA), the Argentine Maize and Sorghum Association (Maizar), the Brazilian Maize Producers Association (Abramilho), the Brazilian Soybean Producers Association (Aprosoja Brasil), the Argentine Soybean Chain Association (ACSoja), the Paraguayan Soybean, Oilseed and Cereal Producers Association (APS) and the Paraguayan Chamber of Grain and Oilseed Exporters and Traders (CAPECO).
The organizations emphasize that, in recent decades, rural producers in South America have been producing food in a sustainable way, using technology. “However, there has been a significant increase in the adoption of protectionist measures by some importing countries that use environmental concerns as a justification. These are initiatives that invert the onus of proof, generalize guilt, and make it a burden for those regulated to prove their innocence”, says the document.
According to the manifesto, the measures also harm the sovereignty of exporting countries, as well as overstepping the European Union’s regulatory powers and placing themselves in a discriminatory position, “harming the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities of the Paris Agreement”.
The representatives of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay say that “the environmental risk classification defined subjectively and unilaterally by the EUDR is unacceptable, as it affects the image and reputation of the countries, distorts international trade, impairs access to credit and implies an increase in the countries’ transaction costs”.
The document also points out that “the impacts presented will occur even though these countries have been examples in environmental regulation and preservation for years, regardless of any legislation or international agreements, resulting in the guarantee of maintaining a large part of their territories covered by native vegetation in volumes much higher than those practiced in Europe”.