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Brazil - Amazon fire concerns hurt Brazilian leather
04 September 2019

A row over the environmental policies of new Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, is affecting the country’s leather industry, writes Leatherbiz.

VF Corporation said at the end of August that its brands, including Timberland, will place no further orders for leather from Brazil until it has “the confidence and assurance” that the leather supplied by tanners there “do not contribute to environmental harm in the country”.

This follows widespread criticism in the international arena of Mr Bolsonaro’s response to fires that have broken out in many parts of the Amazon regions. Campaigners have claimed that fires have become rife partly because of land-clearance to allow cattle farmers to graze livestock there.

Major groups, including JBS and Marfrig, have pledged to source no cattle for their beef production operations from illegally deforested land in sensitive Amazon regions. JBS has said any supplier that Brazil’s ministry of the environment flags up for illegal deforestation is automatically banned from selling cattle to the group. It says its purchasing systems monitor this information every day.

In the days leading up to the VF Corporation announcement, Brazil’s main leather industry body, CICB, wrote to environment minister, Ricardo Salles, to warn him of possible cancellations from international buyers of Brazilian leather. CICB later said it had checked with buyers and had informed the minister that, while buyers would not cancel existing orders, they were going to demand additional guarantees about the traceability of Brazilian leather.