US grant to combat labour abuses in Paraguay, Brazil cattle industry

The $5 million grant was awarded in a cooperative agreement with a UN agency
calendar icon 29 March 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

The US Department of Labour on Tuesday awarded a $5 million grant under a cooperative agreement with a UN agency to fund initiatives addressing abusive labour practices on Brazilian and Paraguayan cattle ranches, Reuters reported, citing a statement.

The project run by the International Labour Organization, a UN agency, will advocate for workers in cattle ranching areas of Brazil's Mato Grosso do Sul state and in the Boquerón region of the Paraguayan Chaco, where labor right violations targeting vulnerable populations have been reported.

"Workers on small- and medium-sized cattle farms that supply larger international cattle production operations often fall victim," the US Department of Labour said.

"As cattle production in the two countries has expanded to meet global demand, the threat and levels of forced labour and labour exploitation has also grown."

South America is home to some of the world's biggest beef companies, including JBS SA, Minerva and Marfrig. The United States is the second-biggest destination for Brazilian beef exports after China.

Last Friday, the US Department of Agriculture proposed allowing fresh beef imports from Paraguay.

Brazil's Labour Ministry did not return requests for comment on the grant.

Brazilian labour prosecutors based in Mato Grosso do Sul, tasked with probing labor right abuses in the state, said violations are common on farm towns close to the Paraguayan border.

According to Labour Ministry data cited by the prosecutors, 116 workers, including 41 Paraguayans, where rescued from "slave-like conditions" last year in Mato Grosso do Sul, the highest toll since 2016.

They toiled on cattle ranches and sugar cane plantations, applying herbicides, among other activities, the data showed.

ILO is a UN agency that sets labour standards and advocates for policies promoting fair work conditions across the globe.

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.