“More Talk, More Delays, Little Progress”

Rainforest Action Network Responds to Cargill’s Just-Released Policy on Forests


CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989, Emma@ran.org 

San Francisco, CA – Today, Cargill Inc. released a new policy on forests that permits over a decade of ongoing rainforest destruction, climate pollution and egregious human rights violations in the agribusiness giant’s global operations.   

Today’s announcement marks the first anniversary of a commitment made by its CEO Dave MacLennan to eliminate deforestation from its global supply chains. The newly released Policy on Forests includes Action Plans for key commodities such as palm oil. Cargill first stated its intention to eliminate palm oil suppliers associated with deforestation, degradation of carbon-rich peatlands or failure to protect Indigenous and other human and worker rights in July 2014, but this latest policy does little to impact the continual destruction of forests with a timeline out of step with competitors. 

In response to today’s announcement, Rainforests Action Network’s Agribusiness Campaign Director Gemma Tillack says:

“Today’s announcement is more talk and more delays from Cargill––a disappointment when combined with the little progress that has been made in the past year to transform the operations of its suppliers on the ground in Indonesia and Malaysia.

“The global climate and biodiversity crisis is happening now. We simply can not afford to accept the ongoing expansion of commodities that are driving the destruction of the world’s last intact rainforests. Cargill’s weak deadline of 2030 for cutting deforestation from its supply chains supports a ‘business as usual’ trajectory for most agricultural commodities. 

“What’s more, a 2020 timeframe to transform its palm oil supply chain is also slow and out of pace with its competitors who have adopted more ambitious timelines. Cargill needs to take swifter action, particularly given the rate of destruction in Southeast Asia and the extent of existing abuses in the palm oil sector.”

In the past 12 months little progress has been made to drive real change on the ground in Indonesia and Malaysia, where a majority of the palm oil Cargill buys and sells is produced. The following cases demonstrate that more action is needed before Cargill can deliver on its commitments:

  • Palm oil expansion continues to drive deforestation in the 6.5 million acre global biodiversity hotspot known as The Leuser Ecosystem. Located in Aceh on the island of Sumatra, it is the last place on Earth where Sumatran orangutan, tiger, elephant, rhino and sunbear coexist in the wild, and the companies responsible for the destruction of rainforests and peatlands in the area sell palm oil to Cargill’s key global suppliers.
  • In a recent Wall Street Journal report, forced labor and human trafficking was exposed in the operations of palm oil giant FELDA––a known supplier to Cargill in Malaysia where a number of Cargill’s palm oil refineries are located. 
  • The practice of landgrabbing is closely tied to deforestation, as palm oil companies seize community land for the further development of plantations. Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK), a known supplier to Cargill, has attempted to pursue development in Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea and Grand Bassa County, Liberia despite active opposition and lack of Free, Prior and Informed Consent from local communities.
  • An annually recurring issue, forest and plantation fires are currently ablaze across Indonesia, blanketing the skies of local villages and cities, as well as those cities across Southeast Asia, with toxic smoke. The fires are huge drivers of climate change, disrupt air traffic, provoke public health emergencies and trigger diplomatic crisis among Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Due to lack of transparency in Cargill’s global supply chain, Cargill can not guarantee that it is not sourcing palm oil from plantations where fires are ablaze. 

Cargill is the largest importer of palm oil into the United States. Palm oil is used in roughly half the packaged goods sold in grocery stores and products containing Cargill-sourced palm oil can be found in most American homes.

With 2013 revenues of $136.7 billion and profits of $2.31 billion, Cargill is among the largest and most powerful private corporations in the world. Cargill’s business lines touch all aspects of palm oil production, trade, refining and marketing as it moves palm oil from producers to end consumers. Cargill has a crucial role to play in building traceable and responsible palm oil sourcing from growers to markets.



Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org