SAO PAULO, July 2 (Reuters) - Brazilian food processor JBS SA has been buying cattle from ranchers operating on deforested land in the Amazon that the government had said must not be used for grazing, a newspaper report said on Tuesday.
Repórter Brasil, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Guardian reported that a JBS supplier in the northern Brazilian state of Pará had been raising cattle in a deforested area that had been embargoed by the environment agency Ibama.
In a statement sent to Reuters, JBS said that monitoring indirect cattle suppliers was challenging for the entire meat-packing sector due to a lack of public databases that would allow a proper monitoring system to be developed.
A JBS spokesperson also referred Reuters to a statement sent to Repórter Brasil and the other publications. It said in that statement that it did not buy animals from farms involved in the deforestation of native forests or from farms embargoed by Ibama.
Ibama imposes embargoes on land where illegal deforestation has taken place, as punishment and to allow the land to recover. Ibama could not immediately be reached for comment.
The report cited its investigative team who it said saw cattle grazing on a farm in Pará called Lagoa do Triunfo. It said the farm had been fined for deforestation and should not have had animals grazing on it. That farm belongs to AgroSB, a traditional supplier to JBS, the report said.
AgroSB did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
In the report, AgroSB said there were no irregularities in cattle sales from Lagoa do Triunfo and that deforestation had occurred before it acquired the farm. It declined to comment specifically on the cattle seen grazing on the embargoed area.
Citing public animal shipping records, the report claimed that between January and October of 2018, AgroSB transferred at least 296 head of cattle from Lagoa do Triunfo to Espírito Santo, an estate which it also owns. From there, AgroSB sold at least 1,977 head of cattle between July and October to two JBS meat plants in Pará, the records showed.
Other purchases from Espírito Santo occurred last January, when JBS bought some 936 animals from that farm, the report claimed.
$1 = 3.8655 reais Reporting by Ana Mano, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien