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  • Writer's pictureLuiza Bruscato

Sustainability and traceability are becoming increasingly important in Brazilian livestock farming.

In an exclusive interview with the GS1 Brasil News Portal, Luiza Bruscato, Executive Director, and Aécio Flores, Coordinator of the Traceability Working Group, representatives of the Brazilian Roundtable on Sustainable Livestock (GTPS), share not only the relevance of traceability and the challenges of implementing it but also provide an overview of the organization's trajectory, its main achievements, and future challenges for the Brazilian livestock sector.

Throughout the interview, pertinent issues were discussed, such as sustainable practices in livestock farming, the main problems faced by the sector, and expectations for 2023. Follow the insights from this conversation!

**What is the history of GTPS, when was the organization founded, and what are its purposes?**

Luiza Bruscato: GTPS was born 16 years ago from the meeting of several organizations that recognized the need to discuss the development of sustainable livestock farming. This debate began in 2007, and shortly thereafter, in 2008, the Conduct Adjustment Terms (TACs) for the livestock chain involved in the Amazon region emerged, followed by the Brazilian Forest Code in 2010.

It was in this context of Amazon deforestation and conflicts related to livestock production that the organization was founded. Over these 16 years, we have developed a series of projects and tools to contribute to the advancement of sustainability and have expanded our focus to other sustainability topics, such as efficient land use, animal welfare, payment for environmental services, and greenhouse gas emissions.

**Who is part of the group?**

Luiza Bruscato: Today, we have nearly 70 member associates across all links of the chain. We have rural producers, input and service companies, slaughterhouses, processors, retailers, restaurants, banks, and NGOs. We understand that to promote the development of sustainable livestock farming, we need alignment from all sectors and full engagement.

**You mentioned that sustainable livestock farming was the main theme that originated the organization. What was being developed at the time that harmed good practices in livestock farming?**

Luiza Bruscato: I think it was the entire scenario I mentioned, but it also has to do with the fact that we didn't have standardization or a common understanding of what sustainable livestock farming is. Over the years, we developed a tool called GIPS (Guide to Sustainable Livestock Indicators), in which we translated the meaning of sustainable livestock farming for the Group.


From this common understanding, we designed 35 indicators that we can use to get a snapshot of the level of sustainability of activities, generate reports, and identify where we need to focus more energy and efforts to solve problems and advance. So, always looking at all links and considering multiple views and diverse perspectives, but with the same goal of identifying problems and making progress. The problems are identified in five areas: management, environment, social pillar (workers and communities), and value chain (more technical aspects).

**Within these five areas you mentioned, where are the main challenges for sustainable livestock farming? Management, human resources, environment, value chain, where are the biggest challenges?**

Luiza Bruscato: Currently, we have 800 farms registered on the platform, and the areas with the lowest scores, that is, with lower performance, are social issues related to workers and management. Interestingly, the environment is not the biggest challenge. Next month, we will launch a sustainable livestock data summary presenting the results of this tool.

**What have been the main achievements of the Brazilian Roundtable so far, and what are the plans and investments for the future?**


Luiza Bruscato: I believe the greatest achievements are related to the alignment and understanding within the sector about what sustainable livestock farming is, as well as establishing the Brazilian Roundtable as a reference on the subject. We have participated in national and international events, representing Brazil and disseminating information about sustainable livestock farming in the country. In the past year, we have extended our reach beyond Brazil's borders, discussing issues such as European Union due diligence and the international market.

For this year, our central theme is traceability, aiming to improve transparency in the production chain. Additionally, we intend to continue disseminating information, offering training related to sustainable livestock farming, and working with partnerships. We also aim to advance in signing commitments related to climate and animal welfare.

**How has traceability helped in good livestock practices and why is this topic important to you today?**


Aécio Flores: Traceability is essential for ensuring transparency and sustainability in the livestock production chain. It allows for the tracking of information about the animals' origins, the practices adopted on farms, and animal welfare, as well as enabling the control of issues such as deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

It has been a highly important topic for GTPS, and we are working to develop and implement increasingly efficient traceability systems in the Brazilian livestock production chain.

**Recently, you presented the results of the 2022 traceability working group. What are the fundamental items to advance the traceability process and how is this related to sustainability in livestock farming?**

Aécio Flores: In the traceability working group, we brought together all the actors involved in the livestock production chain to discuss the topic. We listed a series of fundamental items to advance the traceability process in Brazil, as we consider traceability to be as important as other aspects of sustainable livestock farming, such as proper management, animal welfare, sanitary control, soil conservation, water use, and biodiversity conservation.

Traceability is crucial for understanding the trajectory of animals throughout their lives and creating a sustainable radiography of their production. This is becoming increasingly important, especially with the demands of meat-buying countries like the European Union, which has already announced that it wants zero-deforestation products.

They don't want a product with some deforestation; they want a zero-deforestation product. They have very advanced control and monitoring mechanisms and are demanding this from their suppliers. Thus, traceability becomes a fundamental tool to ensure that meat production in Brazil is aligned with international requirements and is sustainable over time.

**You mentioned that there are significant challenges ahead, but everyone knows what needs to be done. How does the GTPS traceability working group plan to tackle these challenges?**


Aécio Flores: Yes, there are significant challenges, but all stakeholders, including the government, producers, and the industry, are aware of the need to act. The goal of the GTPS traceability working group this year is to consolidate initiatives rather than create another distinct initiative. We want to analyze the common points that exist among all the existing traceability initiatives and create a unified initiative, regardless of who leads it.

It is essential to have specific numbering and tracking of each animal to prove its sustainability and sanitary conditions throughout its life.

Everyone is aware of the increasing pressure and the need to act. Now it is a matter of fine-tuning the process and working together to create a single traceability initiative that ensures the sustainability of Brazilian livestock farming and meets international requirements.

**How do you believe that traceability and cooperation among all links in the chain can help ensure a sustainable future for livestock farming in Brazil and meet the challenges posed by international markets?**


Aécio Flores: By implementing traceability and ensuring cooperation among all links in the production chain, it is possible to monitor and control the environmental and social impact of livestock farming throughout the entire process.

This allows us to identify and address issues such as deforestation, misuse of natural resources, inadequate labor practices, and other environmental and social issues. With traceability in place, it is possible to ensure that animals are raised and managed sustainably from birth to slaughter, and that the final product meets the expectations of international markets and consumers.

By working together, producers, slaughterhouses, government agencies, and other actors can share information and resources, promoting the adoption of sustainable and responsible practices across the sector. In this way, Brazilian livestock farming can position itself as a leader in sustainability and face the challenges imposed by international markets, thus ensuring a promising future for the sector.

**What are the most challenging data to collect in the traceability process?**

Aécio Flores: A major issue is with indirect animals, as it is difficult to obtain information about their origin and the processes they have undergone.

Indirect animals are those that are bought on a finishing farm and then sold to the slaughterhouse. The challenge is to trace the origin of these animals.

**What are the other challenges in governance and data in the context of agribusiness?**

Luiza Bruscato: The challenges include defining who will be responsible for the data and coordinating the work, as well as establishing clear governance at federal, state, and municipal levels.

There is also a systemic challenge of understanding the role of the involved agencies and the need to create a single database.

There is still a lack of clarity in governance, which hinders the advancement of the process because there are many agencies involved and no well-defined specific responsibility. This results in difficulties in making decisions and implementing effective solutions.

**Supporting Sustainability: GS1 as an Ally in Traceability**

Sustainability and traceability are essential to ensuring a more responsible and ethical production chain in the future. GS1 is committed to supporting transparency and innovation in this regard. If you want to learn more about how GS1 can help you implement effective traceability solutions and contribute to a more sustainable future, contact us at Together, we can make a difference and create a more conscious and sustainable business environment!

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