U.S. Congress Democrats Target Palm Oil, Beef Trade In Deforestation Bill



Richard Cowan and Fathin Ungku | Reuters

WASHINGTON/SINGAPORE, Oct 6 (Reuters) – Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday were set to unveil legislation to reduce illegal deforestation globally by restricting the trade of certain agricultural commodities, such as palm oil and cattle, produced with those methods.

The “FOREST Act of 2021,” introduced simultaneously in the Senate and House of Representatives by Democratic Senator Brian Schatz and Representative Earl Blumenauer, could have a major impact on trade from nations such as Brazil and Indonesia, but faces a difficult climb in the deeply divided Congress.

Under the Democrats’ bill, companies would have to improve their tracking of supply chains for certain commodities, especially palm oil, cocoa, soy and cattle products, as well as rubber and wood pulp, to prove they come from areas that have not been illegally logged. Imports falling short of the standard would be blocked and companies would face U.S. legal action and fines.

“Deforestation is continuing to accelerate,” Schatz said in a telephone interview, adding, “It’s time to use the economic and political power in the possession of the United States” to reverse that trend.

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