As the demand for beef is on the rise, farmers in the Brazilian Pantanal continue to clear land to provide room for their growing cattle ranches. As a result, not only do farmers destroy habitat, they often introduce exotic grasses, treated with pesticides, on which their cattle graze.
But thanks to a new certification program being carried out by Conservation International (CI) and Brazil's Biodynamic Beef Institute, farmers from six cattle
||"Farmers who convert their farms to organic beef production are realizing economic success without continued environmental destruction."|
ranches covering more than 400,000 acres of Brazil's Pantanal are switching from conventional to organic beef.
Organic beef, or "ecobeef" is produced in a manner that is healthier for people and the environment. To become certified, farmers cannot destroy natural vegetation on their farms, grow non- native vegetation or use any agrochemicals. Additionally, they must raise cattle breeds that have adapted to local conditions and feed animals a diet produced according to the standards of organic agriculture.
By adhering to these strict production standards, Pantanal cattle farmers can tap into a growing global market for healthy, environmentally friendly products. Studies have found that consumers are willing to pay as much as 30 percent more for organic beef than for beef raised on conventional farms.
"The Pantanal is the world's largest wetland and a critical reserve of biodiversity. However, it is increasingly threatened by cattle farmers who introduce exotic grasses for livestock feed and use pesticides and fertilizers to promote the growth of non-native species," explains Reinaldo Lourival, director of CI's Pantanal program. "Farmers who convert their farms to organic beef production are realizing economic success without continued environmental destruction."
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