Download Now! Actions to Transform Food Systems under Climate Change

Advancing sustainable cattle certification in Brazil

Cattle ranching causes much of Brazil's deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable cattle certification aims to decrease the environmental impacts of cattle ranching while protecting livelihoods. Photo: Thomas Sennett, World Bank
(afficher l'original)

CCAFS is working with the Institute of Agricultural Management and Forest Certification (IMAFLORA), the Rainforest Alliance, and the Universities of Michigan, Oxford and São Paolo to investigate how to increase the scale and impacts of private sector certification to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions from cattle farming in Brazil.

With support from the Global Innovation Initiative and implementing partners, a team of master’s students, researchers, and certification specialists are collecting and analyzing biophysical, socio-economic, institutional, and industry data in Brazil. They are studying land-use change, farmer decision-making, and the impacts of changes in agricultural management practices on greenhouse gas emissions. And they are using the more established experience of certification in the coffee sector to learn lessons for the cattle sector.

The project, Climate change mitigation, avoided deforestation and commodity agriculture: Assessing private sector innovation for sustainable coffee and cattle in Brazilbegan in 2014, and data collection and analysis is underway. In 2016, the team will hold a synthesis workshop for policy-makers and certification decision-makers in Brazil to summarize findings from research and to inform decision-making for the development of more sustainable agricultural practices that can benefit farmers, consumers, and the environment. The team plans to deliver journal articles, policy briefs, reports, and master’s theses to the international community.

The project is organized into components, each led by a different partner:

  1. Pathways by which certification programs can contribute to enhanced sustainability led by the University of Michigan
  2. Modeling the potential for improved on-farm agricultural practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cattle farming in Brazil led by the University of Michigan
  3. Understanding farmer participation in certification programs led by the University of Sao Paulo
  4. Smallholder access to certification programs led by the University of Oxford
Senior researchers
participating students

Meghan Bogaerts, Ian Robinson, and Mikaela Rodkin, all University of Michigan master's students, are studying carbon accounting on cattle farms in Brazil.

Lora Cirhigiri, also a master's student at the University of Michigan, is researching policy opportunities for upscaling best practices on cattle farms and carbon accounting on cattle farms.

Victoria Ferris, a master's student from Oxford University, will be writing papers on the following subjects: 1) On-farm and landscape-level social equity in coffee certification: The role of procedural versus performance-based criteria, 2) The role of environmental management in the SAN standard in delivery of environmental performance in Brazil’s coffee sector, 3) What is the current and potential role of Brazil’s voluntary cattle standards in reducing forest carbon emissions?, and 4) The factors that impede cattle farmers from taking up sustainable cattle ranching and the factors that could motivate them to take up sustainable ranching practices.

Daniel Adshead, a master's student from Oxford University, Adrian Gonzalez, a master's student from the University of Sao Paulo, and Mariana Corá, Allessandra Gomes and Beatriz Oliveira, research assistants from the University of Sao Paulo, are also participating in the project.

Partner publications

Alves-Pinto H, Newton P, Pinto LFG. 2013. Certifying sustainability: opportunities and challenges for the cattle supply chain in Brazil. CCAFS Working Paper No. 57.

McDermott CL, Irland LC, Pacheco P. 2014. Forest certification and legality initiatives in the Brazilian Amazon: Lessons for effective and equitable forest governance. Forest Policy and Economics.

Milder JC, Arbuthnot M, Blackman A, Brooks S, Giovannucci D, Gross LH, Kennedy ET, Komives K, Lambin EF, Lee A, Meyer D, Newton P, Phalan B, Schroth G, Semroc B, van Rokxoort H, Zrust M. 2014. An agenda for assessing and improving conservation impacts of sustainability standards in tropical agriculture. Conservation Biology.

Newton P, Agrawal A, Wollenberg L. 2013. Enhancing the sustainability of commodity supply chains in tropical forest and agricultural landscapes. Global Environmental Change.

Newton P, Agrawal A, Wollenberg L. 2013. Interventions for achieving sustainability in tropical forest and agricultural landscapes. CAPRi Working Paper No. 110.

Newton P, Alves-Pinto HN, Pinto LFG. 2014. Certification, forest conservation, and cattle: theories and evidence of change in Brazil. Conservation Letters.

Pinto LFG, Gardner T, McDermott C, Omar K, Ayub L. 2014 Group certification supports an increase in the diversity of sustainable agriculture network–rainforest alliance certified coffee producers in Brazil. Ecological Economics.

Pinto LFG, McDermott C. 2013. Equity and forest certification—A case study in Brazil. Forest Policy and Economics.

Winters P, Kuo HW, Niljinda C, Chen B, Alves-Pinto HN, Ongun M, Daryanto S, Newton P. 2015. Voluntary certification design choices influence producer participation, stakeholder acceptance, and environmental sustainability in commodity agriculture sectors in tropical forest landscapes. Journal of Sustainable Forestry.

Other news

Please contact Julianna White, Program Manager for CCAFS Low Emissions Agriculture, for more information about this project.