MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S. — Cargill announced on Aug. 15 a new $3 million grant to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to protect the Brazilian rainforest and help farmers grow soy more sustainably. The grant expands a program that has already helped 383 farmers comply with conservation laws.

Since 2004, the Responsible Soy project has successfully promoted responsible soy production in the Santarém area in the Brazilian state of Pará, where Cargill has a soy terminal, by helping soy farmers comply with the Brazilian Forest Code. The success of the collaboration between TNC and Cargill is evident from the reduction in illegal deforestation in the farms participating in the project since 2006, reaching near zero deforestation in most farms.

Over the next three years the Responsible Soy project will be expanded to pilot and test monitoring systems for environmental impacts beyond deforestation, such as pesticide use and water quality, as well as extending the initiative to reach farmers in the adjoining state of Mato Grosso.

“Cargill and TNC’s partnership demonstrates that critical areas of biodiversity can be protected while the development of responsible agricultural production continues,” said Paulo Sousa, business unit leader, Cargill Grain and Oilseeds Supply Chain, Brazil. “We are supporting the scale up of the project to help ensure that the world’s increasing appetite for soy is met through environmentally sustainable agriculture that protects the Brazilian Amazon.”

Under the existing program, 383 farms in the Santarém area have become registered with the Pará state government and received their CAR (Rural Environmental Registry), the first step for farmers and ranchers towards compliance with Brazil’s environmental laws and an important tool to reconcile environmental conservation and economic development in the region. Cargill only purchases soybeans from those farms in this area that have obtained a CAR.

The program will allow Cargill and TNC to expand the responsible sourcing initiative in up to 20 additional municipalities in Mato Grosso, covering an additional 15 million hectares of land (37 million acres), including approximately 2.5 million hectares (6.2 million acres) planted in soy, that are most at risk from planned road improvements, Cargill said.

This new commitment will allow TNC to continue to monitor deforestation using satellite imagery and field visits to detect any changes to land use and to help farmers meet forest code requirements. Additionally, it will provide on-the-ground assistance to enable farmers in the Santarém region to obtain a legally required license for rural activities, known locally as LAR, Cargill said. This will serve as an important model for the Pará state government to expand its licensing efforts.

“We know that we will not create a sustainable planet unless we engage the private sector in new conservation solutions. Recent increases in deforestation in the Amazon are troubling proof of that,” said Marcio Sztutman, acting director for The Nature Conservancy’s Amazon program. “We are working with Cargill to help farmers keep their trees standing and comply with the Brazilian Forest Code — a set of conservation rules in the Amazon that are among the strictest in the world. Besides helping Amazon farmers maintain the environmental balance on their farms, we are helping Cargill implement environmentally responsible sourcing decisions, piloting an effective model for others and most importantly, preserving the precious biodiversity of the Amazon.”