In this interview, Fernando Sampaio discusses the evolution of the Brazilian beef industry and the widening application of sustainability initiatives. He recounts how the dominant Brazilian meat packers emerged from a land occupation movement and grew with increased government investment in the 1960s. Sampaio also emphasizes that traceability has been an issue in the industry since the 2000s due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease. He explains the role of the Animal Transit Guide in addressing the problem and anticipates that the implementation of the Agricultural and Livestock Management Platform, a newly integrated database, will further improve transparency. Sampaio then reflects on the impact of the Brazilian Roundtable on Sustainable Livestock, the “Slaughtering the Amazon” campaign by Greenpeace, and the consequent lawsuit against meat packers in 2009. Finally, he reviews the challenges associated with improving transparency and sustainability, from increasing communication between the public and private sector to enforcing compliance with the forest code.
At the time of the interview, Fernando Sampaio was leaving his position as the executive director of the Association of Brazilian Beef Exporters to become the director of the “Produce, Conserve, and Include” strategy committee in the state of Mato Grosso. Before leading the beef exporters’ group, Sampaio worked for Zandbergen, a Dutch beef distributor, from 2001 to 2008. He also worked in the French beef industry for a short time before moving to the Netherlands. He received a bachelor’s degree in agronomic engineering in 1997 from the Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture, a unit of the University of São Paulo.