JBS, World’s Largest Beef Producer, Responds to Lawsuit

Apr. 20 2011

JBS says that it has concluded an internal investigation on  its procedures for buying cattle in the state of Acre in Brazil and found that allegations in a lawsuit filed by public prosecutors accusing JBS of buying cattle illegally are unfounded.

Prosecutors filed a R$2 billion (about $1.3 billion) civil suit on April 14 alleging that JBS and 13 other local beef producers have bought cattle from illegally deforested areas in the Amazon and from farms linked to slavery. The lawsuit, according to JBS, refers to the “possible purchase of 578 head of cattle in the past 4 years.”

In a statement, JBS asserts that “it has implemented a blocking system for cattle sourcing, which requires prior consultation of the websites of IBAMA (Brazilian Environmental Agency) and the Ministry of Labor on 3 different stages of purchase: during the loading of cattle, at its arrival at the slaughterhouse and before slaughter. This system has been operating since before the signing of the commitments with public organizations, in October 2009 and it ensures that all cattle purchases in the state of Acre were made in compliance with those commitments.”

Furthermore, the statement goes on to say that JBS “[...]has never purchased cattle from those properties that were linked by Public Authorities to labor conditions equivalent to slavery.”

JBS was started in 1953 by Jose Batista Sobrinho who originally slaughtered, boned and sold meat to local butchers in Anapolis himself. Today, JBS is responsible for 22% of the U.S. beef supply and reported $33 billion in sales in 2010.