Argentine beef sector takes steps to meet new EU import rules on deforestation

Argentina unveiled its first certification scheme for deforestation-free beef to European Union authorities in Brussels on Monday (3 June), as the country prepares for a new EU law targeting imports linked to deforestation.

The scheme, known as VISEC, was launched by the Argentine Beef Promotion Institute (IPCVA) to ensure the traceability of all beef, from farm to fork.

With this system, the IPCVA also aims to “reduce the potential negative impact” of the EU’s anti-deforestation regulation (EUDR), expected to take effect in January 2025.

The EUDR requires EU importers of seven commodities, including cattle and derived products like leather, to prove their products have not contributed to deforestation or forest degradation after December 2020.

VISEC uses geolocation data to certify the sustainable origin of livestock products, aligning with EUDR requirements.

“The certificates can be used by exporters and importers as proof of compliance before the authorities of EU member countries, within the framework of due diligence requirements,” IPCVA stated in a press release.

However, VISEC’s certificates, like other national schemes, aren’t legally accepted by EU authorities for EUDR compliance, Davor Percan from the European Commission’s environment department (DG ENV) explained during the event of presentation of the platform, on 3 June.

“There is no official validation (…) but every element of the EUDR is included, and already certified and verified,” replied Gustavo Idígoras, President of the Argentine Oil Industry Chamber, emphasizing that VISEC provides all necessary information for importers’ risk assessments.

Argentina, one of the world’s largest cattle exporters, wants to position itself as top producer of sustainable beef, in line with international commitments to reverse deforestation.

During the event, the IPCVA boasted about the high sustainability and animal welfare standards of Argentinian cows, which roam freely in the vast grasslands of La Pampa, in central Argentina.

“Argentina is one of the few countries in the world where the animal spends 80% or 90% of its life grazing and in the open air,” said IPCVA’s president Jorge Grimberg,

However, a recent report by Greenpeace Argentina warned that livestock and soy production are driving deforestation in El Chaco, South America’s second-largest forest, which lost 126,149 hectares of forest in 2023, a 6.2% increase from the previous year.

[Edited by Angelo Di Mambro and Rajnish Singh]