WWF-Brazil and Embrapa launch brochure on best practices on cattle ranching

09 agosto 2011    
Organic Cattle ranching
Organic cattle ranching at Pantanal of the Nhecolândia
© WWF-Brazil/Adriano Gambarini

By Aldem Bourscheit

Besides fostering organic cattle ranching, WWF-Brazil also works on the stimulus of best practices on cattle ranching activities. One of the products resulted by this work was the edition of a booklet with recommendations on how to conserve water and soils when raising beef cattle in the Cerrado, the Brazilian savannah.

The booklet – launched during  the International Meat Congress held in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, from 8th to 9th June this year –  was edited in partnership with Embrapa-Beef Cattle (a division of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation).

The publication is the fruit of a partnership arrangement that began in 2008 and is directed at developing and disseminating good agricultural and livestock raising practices in alignment with legal requirements and that benefit production while at the same time protecting the environment.

Conserving water, soils and pasture is of fundamental importance in ensuring the sustainability of a series of economic activities and that of the rural properties themselves because it guarantees survival and improved living conditions to populations inhabiting regions where rural production has successfully and correctly adapted itself to ecological sustainability criteria.

Maintaining a region’s natural vegetation intact in the headwaters areas, along the courses of streams and rivers and on hilltops and steep slopes helps to avoid erosion and flooding, purify the water, quench the thirst of people and their flocks and herds, facilitate pollination and crop productivity and keep the land fertile and productive. Furthermore, those green corridors of vegetation shelter animal and plant species that are typically Brazilian and they bolster the rural properties’ capacity to withstand the threats posed by climate change.

In turn, those benefits directly affect the farmers’ pockets. Well-managed properties have lower production costs because they are benefited by the services provided free of charge by the preserved natural vegetation and have less need to consume costly chemical materials. They are also less susceptible to damage from those the pests that typify regions where production methods fail to act in collusion with the environment.

By acting in this intelligent way cattle farmers maintain the vigour and value of their properties and become eligible to access new spaces in international and domestic markets that are increasingly demanding products that have been produced in sustainable regimes.

 Cleber Oliveira Soares, the head of Emprapa’s Beef Cattle division, stressed that the booklet is based on the programme Good Agricultural and Livestock Raising Practices which, “addresses a set of procedures and regulatory norms that must be adhered to by rural producers in order to make their properties more sustainable”.

Factors like management, the social function of a rural property, human resource management, environmental management, rural installations, pre-slaughter management, animal well-being, pastures, nutritional supplements, animal identification, sanitary control and reproduction management are all crucial to the effectiveness of good practices on a rural property. “The booklet was designed to underscore the concept of Good Agricultural and Livestock Raising Practices”, declared Soares.

WWF-Brazil’s Cerrado-Pantanal Programme coordinator Michael Becker reminds that the issue of good agricultural and livestock practices, “goes far beyond the bounds of a single booklet because work is constantly going on to recuperate and improve values  in crop and cattle farming and it is always our main partners, the producers themselves, in their daily practices that point to the best ways for Brazil to definitively integrate production and conservation”.

The English version of the publication is being editing and will be available soon.

Organic Cattle ranching
Organic cattle ranching at Pantanal of the Nhecolândia
© WWF-Brazil/Adriano Gambarini Enlarge