JBS Fact Check

JBS is a Brazillian company which owns 100% of Huon Aquaculture. It also owns popular brands including Primo, supplies fast food chains such as McDonald's, and sells its products in supermarkets Coles, Woolworths and Aldi.

JBS long-standing corruption, and foreign takeovers

  • On 16 August 2021 NOFF and TAMP wrote to then Treasurer Frydenberg, and the head of the Foreign Investment Review Board, prior to the JBS takeover of Huon Aquaculture, requesting rejection of the takeover on the grounds that the owners of JBS were unfit to own an Australian company.

  • We attached a bipartisan letter from leading US Senators Menendez and Rubio to the US Secretary of the Treasury, outlining in verifiable detail the long-standing tawdry track record of JBS, and of Joesley and Wesley Batista, who hold a controlling interest in JBS.

  • Their record, in the US and elsewhere, includes convictions and massive fines for bribery and corruption, involvement in destruction of Amazon rainforests to enhance their cattle operations and supplies, and in Tasmania, accepting significant government support and then closing most of their abattoir and processing facilities, to the serious disadvantage of local businesses and communities.

JBS and price fixing

  • In September 2020 the US Department of Justice launched an antitrust investigation into the "Big Four" meatpackers, which process more than 80% of beef in the US. Bloomberg reported that the DOJ subpoenaed Tyson, JBS, Cargill, and National Beef, after state AGs wrote to AG William Barr, concerned that the companies may be conspiring to squeeze ranchers during the coronavirus pandemic. Source: The Counter, 6 Sept 2020, viewed online 4 June 2023.
  • In February 2022 JBS agreed to pay $52.5 million to settle litigation accusing meat packers of conspiring to limit supply in the $63 billion-a-year U.S. beef market to inflate prices and boost profit. Lawyers for the purchasers called the accord an "icebreaker", citing JBS' $24.5 million settlement in 2020 of price-fixing claims by pork purchasers. JBS said it did not admit liability but that settling was in its best interest. Source: Reuters, 23 Feb 2022, viewed online 4 June 2023.
  • In September 2022 JBS agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit that accused them of conspiring with other meat companies to inflate the price of pork. Previously, JBS agreed to pay restaurants and caterers $12.75 million as part of a different settlement in this pork lawsuit. JBS did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the deal. Source: Fortune, 20 September 2022, viewed online 4 June 2023.
  • In April 2023 JBS agreed to pay $25 million to commercial beef purchasers who accused them of conspiring with industry rivals to restrict market supply to keep prices artificially high. It is the second deal that JBS and its US units have struck in the case, after they agreed last year to pay $52.5 million to grocers and others that make up the "direct" beef purchaser class. JBS denied liability as part of the settlement. Source: Reuters, 17 April 2023, viewed online 4 June 2023.

JBS and bribery

  • Executives of JBS were secretly funnelling $US149 million in bribe payments to election candidates in Brazil's federal election in 2014 (Source: Australian Financial Review 7 October 2022, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • In October 2020 Reuters reported that Brazil's J&F Investimentos, parent company of the world's largest meatpacker JBS, pleaded guilty to U.S. foreign bribery charges and agreed to pay $128.25 million in criminal fines.
  • J&F is paying only half of the $256.5 million fines due to settlements made with Brazilian authorities three years ago. Then, J&F paid a record-setting $1.85 billion fine in Brazil for its role in corruption scandals that severely weakened then-president Michel Temer.
  • In Brazil, its top executives have admitted to bribing more than 1,900 politicians to advance JBS's expansion and secure low-cost financing from state-run banks.
  • A U.S. charging document said that between 2005 and 2017 the company conspired to bribe officials to secure financing and "equity transactions" from state-controlled banks BNDES and Caixa Economica Federal, as well as Petros, the pension fund for employees of state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro.
  • The bribes J&F executives paid to high-level government officials exceeded $150 million, which generated $178 million in profit for the company, U.S. prosecutors said.
  • J&F also agreed to pay $27 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges related to the bribery scheme.
  • ABC Four Corners reported in April 2022 that JBS used the funds from loans secured through bribery to fund its expansion into Australia (Source: ABC News, 25 April 2022 Four Corners transcript, viewed online 1 June 2023).

All other sources: Reuters Commodities 15 Oct 2020, viewed online 2 June 2023

JBS and Amazon deforestation

  • A 2021 audit has found that a third of the cattle acquired by Brazilian food group JBS for factories in the Amazon region were from areas with deforestation issues and other issues. The 2020 audit from the Federal Prosecutor's Office of Para (MPF-PA) analysed cattle transactions between January 2018 and June 2019.
  • The factories in the region purchased 940,617 head of cattle between January 2018 and June 2019, of which 31.99% came from areas with problems (equals 300,000 head of cattle). This represents more than three times the 9.95% tolerance rate stipulated by MPF-PA for the 2020 audit.
  • In 2019, 8 per cent of cattle purchased by the company came from farms with irregularities. In 2018, it was 19 per cent.
  • In 2013 JBS signed an Agreement with the Brazillian Federal Prosecutor's Office of Para not to purchase cattle from farms in illegally deforested areas or from properties involved in environmental crimes. The companies also agreed to stop buying cattle from ranchers blacklisted for engaging in slave labor, occupying indigenous land and violating environmental preserves

Source: Reuters Sustainable Business, 8 October 2021, viewed online 1 June 2023

JBS and carbon emissions

  • The combined methane emissions of 15 of the world's largest meat and dairy companies are higher than those of several of the world's largest countries, including Russia, Canada and Australia, according to a new study.
  • The report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Changing Markets Foundation, does a lot of math on food giants like JBS, Tyson, Nestle, and Danone, finding that just 15 meat and dairy companies are responsible for 3.4% of global methane emissions from human activity.
  • Researchers singled out individual livestock companies such as JBS, the world's largest meat company, and the French dairy giant Danone.
  • JBS's methane emissions "far outpace all other companies", according to the report, exceeding the combined livestock emissions of France, Germany, Canada and New Zealand. The world's largest meat and dairy companies are responsible for more than 10% of all global methane emissions from livestock, with some singular companies emitting as much or more methane than many individual countries, including Russia, Germany, and Australia.

Source: Just Food, 21 November 2022, viewed online 1 June 2023

Read an IATP report here and another report here (viewed online 2 June 2023)

JBS and greenwashing

  • New York is suing JBS, the world's biggest meat company and owner of Huon Aquaculture, for misleading customers about its climate commitments. Letitia James's lawsuit accuses JBS of deceiving customers about being climate-friendly reports The Guardian (viewed online 10 April 2024).
  • The attorney general has asserted that the JBS Group has made sweeping represe ntations to consumers about its commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, claiming that it will be 'Net Zero by 2040.'" But those claims aren't grounded in reality, the complaint goes on to argue, not only because JBS isn't taking concrete steps toward those goals, but because as recently as September 2023, the CEO admitted in a public forum that the company didn't even know how to calculate all of its emissions. It follows that what can't be measured won't be mitigated.

JBS and PwC

  • In 2014 JBS was negotiating with PwC Australia to ensure tax advice given to JBS's Australian subsidiaries would be covered by legal professional privilege (Source: Australian Financial Review, 25 March 2022, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • In early 2014, PwC proposed to JBS that PwC lead a global reorganisation that they claimed in later emails could lawfully save JBS $250 million in US tax and potentially $70 million a year in Australian taxes (Source: The Guardian, 6 June 2022, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • On 9 December PwC Australia began work to move ownership of JBS to Luxembourg (Source: Australian Financial Review, 8 October 2022, viewed online 1 June 2023).

JBS and child labour

  • There was extensive coverage in 2022 in the US about a JBS cleaning service subcontractor attracting huge fines for employing child labour in JBS and other processing plants in Nebraska and Minnesota. Children as young as thirteen were doing night shifts doing disgusting cleaning work in dangerous environments, using caustic cleaning chemicals and cleaning dangerous power-driven equipment, over three years (Source: Food Safety News, 15 November 2022, viewed online, 1 June 2023; and ABC News 18 February 2023, viewed online 1 June 2023).

JBS and Tasmanian abattoirs

  • On 10 September 2012 JBS announced closure of its King Island abattoir, which had received a $12million loan (since repaid) from the Tasmanian government (Source: Beef Central, 11 September 2012, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • On 25 October 2012 JBS refused to sell or lease its vacant King Island abattoir to local producers (Source: ABC Rural News, 25 October 2012, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • On 26 June 2013 JBS threatened to close its Longford abattoir if King Island opened in competition (Source: Food and Beverage, 26 June 2013, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • In October 2018 JBS announced the closure of its Devenport abattoir (Source: The Examiner, 22 October 2018, viewed online 1 June 2023).

JBS and worker safety

  • An ABC Four Corners investigation found that JBS Australia has an appalling track record in the workplace, repeatedly failing to protect its workers from death or serious injuries.
  • JBS has been convicted at least six times in the past six years and fined almost $700,000 over serious safety breaches. Three of those incidents involved employees being dragged into dangerous machinery. Their injuries have ranged from maimed limbs to amputated hands.

  • In 2017 a JBS worker was killed trying to put out a grassfire started by machinery at their Caroona feedlot near Tamworth. JBS pleaded guilty to exposing its workers to a risk of death or serious injury and was convicted in November 2020. During the court case, it was revealed there'd been two previous fires at the same site, sparked in very similar circumstances, in the three months leading up to the death. The judge found these incidents "ought to have put [JBS] squarely on notice of the risks to their workers". Instead, the company kept no record of the two previous fires and failed to train any of its staff around the danger.

  • In 2016 a worker at JBS's Longford Tasmania abattoir fell into a vat of near boiling water and suffered serious long-lasting injuries. JBS pleaded guilty to two charges but was found not guilty of a recklessness charge. A magistrate found JBS knew there was a safety problem and failed to fix it.
  • In 2009 an 18-year-old trainee died at one of the company's Queensland facilities when he was killed driving a forklift unlicensed and unsupervised late at night. A Queensland Ombudsman report found the teenager was repeatedly able to use forklifts at JBS without intervention or any disciplinary action during his probation period.

Source: ABC News 26 April 2022, viewed online 11 December 2023

  • In 2023 JBS was fined $300,000 plus costs after an employee's spine was fractured while moisture testing when she was crushed by 700kg hay bales in rural NSW. She now suffers ongoing pain and disability and cannot return to work. JBS Australia was found guilty of failing to comply with safety standards. The judge said the risks posed by moisture testing were well known and the general practise at JBS was deficient. They had a blind spot in their system which had developed over a lengthy period of time, and they failed to be proactive in improving their systems to eliminate the risk.

Source: News.com.au 9 November 2023, viewed online 17 May 2024.

And now the Tasmanian industry is fully foreign owned . . .

  • The Australia Institute has released an analysis of how very little tax the salmon industry pays, and points out that it will be increasingly hard to find these statistics. They also discuss how exaggerated and unsupported industry employment claims are. Read their analysis here.

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