Catastrophic flooding in Brazil highlights environmental impact of agribusiness

27/05/2024

The recent severe floods in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, highlight the urgent need to address environmental issues caused by agribusiness practices. Like the challenges we face with wildfires in Canada, this disaster underscores the need for global action.

Devastating floods in Rio Grande do Sul

Earlier this month, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, experienced catastrophic floods that have caused significant damage and loss of human and animal life. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and extend our thoughts to all those affected. 

As of Sunday, over 540,000 people have been displaced, and over 155 have lost their lives due to the floods. The disaster has severely impacted infrastructure, with roads, bridges, and buildings destroyed. 

Impact on animals

Animals are also suffering greatly due to this disaster. This flood has harmed many pets, wild animals, and farm animals. Over 10,000 animals have been rescued already, but as severe weather continues, there are many more still in desperate need of help. 

A dog stranded in the flood water in Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil

A dog stranded in the flood water in Brazil (Photo: cabuscaa/Shutterstock)

There are reports of terrible fatalities for pigs on industrial farms for suppliers of major corporations like JBS. An estimated 12,600 pigs have perished after floods submerged entire towns and destroyed critical infrastructure. Some 30 farms were affected. This illustrates how factory farming puts animals at significant risk during disasters as the conditions in which these animals are kept make it impossible to help them.

The role of agribusiness

For years, large agribusiness companies, such as JBS, have been deforesting vast areas in Brazil and worldwide to grow crops like soybeans for animal feed. This not only destroys habitats but also significantly contributes to climate change, leading to more frequent and severe weather events like these devastating floods.

Large agribusiness companies have been influencing public policies to relax environmental regulations, worsening the climate crisis. In Brazil, for example, they finance think tanks like Instituto Pensar Agro (IPA) and push for laws such as the Devastation Bill, which would make it easier to bypass environmental protections. 

Urgent need for change

The only way we will combat climate change and prevent future disasters like this one is by changing our farming practices and food system. The current food system, heavily reliant on factory farming, is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. We need to demand that agribusiness reduce their destructive environmental impact. 

Demand action - No future for factory farming

Join our campaign to end factory farming, which is a major contributor to environmental destruction and animal suffering. By signing our petition, you can help pressure big companies to stop harmful practices and urge the Canadian government to take action now. 

Act now

Emergency preparedness resources

In Canada, wildfire season has arrived, and some towns have already been evacuated. This situation reminds us that environmental disasters can strike anywhere and anytime, and being prepared is essential. 

Include your pets in your emergency plan. We developed an emergency preparedness checklist to help you keep your pet safe. Get our checklist to help you make an emergency preparedness plan for your pet

Emergency preparedness for farm animals: If you raise farm animals, the Government of Canada also has resources to help you make an emergency plan for them too

Further reading

Unfortunately, our research shows there are no legal requirements for farms in Canada to have emergency plans or evacuation plans and current policies and insurance schemes don't incentivize farmers to protect their animals during disasters or farm in a more humane, sustainable and resilient way.

Learn more in our report:

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