“The Soy Toolkit is a programme developed by Proforest which aims to provide soy traders, soy buying companies and retailers with information on the tools and resources necessary for them to source soy responsibly. This means decoupling the production and trade of soy from social and environmental issues.”
Brazil is the now the world’s largest soy producer and exporter and is expected to remain in this leading position over the coming crop years . However, Brazil accounted for a third of the world’s tropical primary forest loss in 2019 and most of it was deemed illegal according to a recent analysis . Soy is considered to be the second largest driver of deforestation globally by some research , but there are also geospatial analyses showing that soy expansion did not happen at the expense of native vegetation loss in many areas.
There is growing scrutiny from civil society, media, investors and downstream companies – many of which made pledges not to buy soy associated with deforestation – as to what extent soy as an ingredient or feed is associated with environmental (and social) issues.
How can companies in the soy supply chain evidence that they are not
Ellen Griffiths / Proforest
trading soy which is associated with deforestation, native vegetation conversion or human rights violations? We would expect most of the soy grown in Brazil not to be associated with such issues. However, the only way to demonstrate that is by scrutinising the supply chain, and there are many resources for companies to do this in Brazil.
The Soy Toolkit is a programme developed by Proforest which aims to provide soy traders, soy buying companies and retailers with information on the tools and resources necessary for them to source soy responsibly. This means decoupling the production and trade of soy from social and environmental issues.
The Soy Toolkit organises the wealth of resources that can help companies to implement these policies around a 5-element approach to responsible sourcing, outlined in the figure below:
For each element of the Soy Toolkit we outline resources that already exist, helping companies to increase their capacity to implement their commitments by building on existing initiatives. It shows companies how to access data and methods to engage with suppliers and trace the soy they purchase, how to use purchase control systems to flag when suppliers might not comply with their policies, and the best practices in monitoring and reporting on progress to stakeholders.
Some examples of resources and ınıtıatıves
The Amazon Soy Moratorium is an agreement signed in 2006 to ensure that soy production in the Amazon region only occurs on existing agricultural land and not through deforestation or conversion of native vegetation. It has been successful in helping reduce soy-related deforestation in the Amazon.
Anyone who buys soy from Brazil should check that they are buying from a company that is a signatory to the moratorium: If they are, the buyer should ask for the audit reports to see if they are 100 percent compliant, and if they are not, the buyer can take action on it. If they are not a signatory, then the buyer should ask them to become a signatory. The moratorium provides a credible and successful framework to demonstrate that, whenever you are trading soy from the Amazon, it is deforestation-free.
The Forest Code obliges a landowner to protect from at least 20 to 80 percent of their land as native vegetation, depending where the property is located. Under the farm registry system the government provides online access to every single farm boundary, as well as information on protected areas. This provides people with an unprecedented level of transparency with over 5 million properties enrolled – more than 90 percent of all the properties in the country.
If you are a trader, you can ask your supplier for the registry number. You can then use this number on the system to see, for instance, if their registry is active, pending or cancelled. If it is cancelled, it could be because the farm overlays with protected areas like an indigenous territory.
The Federal Environmental Agency maintains a list of environmental embargoes, some of which are because of illegal deforestation. IBAMA puts in the public domain areas that that have been found to be breaching our environmental laws. If you buy soybeans directly from the farmer, you can cross-check your supplier name with this list.
Another example is the Public Prosecutor’s Office website, which includes lawsuits related to environmental and social issues like land conflicts. It will show you if you are buying from someone who has a lawsuit outstanding.
There are many other initiatives and resources we feature in the Soy Toolkit. We have mapped over 100 of them, including tools that can help you with traceability, continuous improvement programmes for farmers, or information on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) related to policy implementation being reported by supply chain companies.
This snapshot of the sort of tools and resources available can help to give companies a flavour of how the Soy Toolkit can help them to implement their responsible sourcing policies for soy produced in Brazil. We are able to offer free-of-charge training sessions for companies – please see www.soytoolkit.net for details of how to request this.
The Soy Toolkit has been developed by Proforest as part of the Good Growth Partnership’s Responsible Demand Project, thanks to financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
USDA, 2020. Available at: https://apps.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/app/index.html#/app/advQuery
Global Forest Watch, 2020. Available at: https://blog.globalforestwatch.org/data-and-research/global-tree-cover-loss-data-2019/
Mapbiomas, 2020. Available at: https://alerta.mapbiomas.org/en/relatorios?cama_set_language=en
Pendrill et al, 2019, Deforestation displaced: trade in forest-risk commodities and the prospects for a global forest transition (https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab0d41); Carneiro Filho et al, 2016, The expansion of soybean production in the Cerrado (https://www.inputbrasil.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/The-expansion-of-soybean-production-in-the-Cerrado_Agroicone_INPUT.pdf); Henders et al, 2015, Trading forests: land-use change and carbon emissions embodied in production and exports of forest-risk commodities (https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/10/12/125012/meta); Gasparri et al, 2014, The Coupling of South American Soybean and Cattle Production Frontiers: New Challenges for Conservation Policy and Land Change Science (https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/conl.12121); Arima et al, 2011, Statistical confirmation of indirect land use change in the Brazilian Amazon (https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/6/2/024010/meta).
Agrosatelite, 2020, Available at: https://agrosatelite.com.br/cases/#expansao-agricola. ABIOVE, 2020, available at: https://abiove.org.br/en/relatorios/moratoria-da-soja-relatorio-12o-ano/.
See Forest 500 (https://forest500.org/), CDP (https://www.cdp.net/en), Supply Change (https://supply-change.org/), Cerrado Manifesto Statement of Support (https://cerradostatement.fairr.org/).