RIO DE JANEIRO – A warning was issued by federal prosecutors to Brazil's largest slaughterhouse operated by JBS SA for accepting cattle raised illegally, according to The Associated Press. The attorney general's office charged JBS SA’s slaughterhouse in the western state of Mato Grosso is not fulfilling an agreement to stop using cattle raised illegally.

Prosecutors defined illegal cattle as those raised in environmentally sensitive regions, on indigenous reservations and at farms that have been blacklisted for using slave labor. The prosecutors’ Oct. 17 statement added JBS has 10 days to respond. Failing to do so could lead to fines. The statement charged JBS bought 3,476 head of cattle raised in violation of the agreement between May 2010 and May 2011.

JBS SA denies violating any agreement or commitment made to public and civil institutions in Brazil. It stressed through a statement it adopts strict controls of its raw material sourcing, follows a rigorous sustainability policy, monitors its suppliers and rejects any practices that harm the environment or people.

“With regard to the notification received from the public prosecutor’s office in the State of Mato Grosso last Monday, in which the company is accused of violating the state´s sustainable livestock agreement, JBS vigorously denies the company participated in the practices mentioned by the public office,” JBS said.

After conducting an audit of its cattle sourcing system, the company´s findings relative to the accusations are:

  • Purchases made from the 13 farms embargoed by Ibama (Brazilian Environmental Institute) were effected prior to the publication on Ibama´s website of the list of constraints, which included the farms mentioned.
  • Although JBS repeatedly requested information from all responsible public offices at federal, state and municipal levels, a list or database indicating properties that engage in irregular farming activities in indigenous reserves was never presented to the company. So, JBS absorbed all operational costs and is proceeding to precision-map 100 percent of the ranches supplying cattle to the company using a GPS system. As a result of this mapping, all geographical coordinates collected by the company indicate the properties mentioned in the prosecutor´s notification are not inside indigenous reserves.

Regarding the ranches mentioned in the notification, a number have never had any commercial relationship with JBS and are not listed in the company´s supplier database, JBS claims.

“There is clear proof that data consulted by the public prosecutor´s office and released by non-governmental organizations was not properly checked and has lead to inaccurate conclusions by public entities,” JBS charged.

The public authorities’ deadline for registration of farm boundaries in the State of Mato Grosso has been extended to November 2012. The availability of this information would increase the accuracy of ranch locations, JBS said.

“Given the difficulty in obtaining precise information, within a reasonable timeframe and procedure, JBS continues to review the case of the one ranch that was allegedly included in the Ministry of Labor´s list of restricted properties,” the company concluded.