JBS deforestation

World’s Biggest Factory Farming Company Sued by New York State



Attorney General Letitia James is suing JBS USA, a subsidiary of the world’s largest beef producer, for misleading consumers about greenhouse gas emissions.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against JBS USA Food Company and JBS USA Food Company Holdings (JBS USA) for misleading the public about its environmental impact, claiming that the American subsidiary of the world’s largest producer of beef—and the world’s biggest factory farming companyis misrepresenting its intention to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 since the company has no clear plan to accomplish this goal and plans to continue expanding production. 

According to a press release from the Attorney General’s office, the JBS Group (JBS USA’s global parent company) reported total greenhouse gas emissions of over 71 million tons—more than the total emissions of many entire countries—and alleges that JBS USA has made “several misleading claims about its environmental impact.”

These greenwashing and misleading statements that include curbing Amazonian deforestation and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions continued to be touted by JBS USA despite receiving a warning from the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division (NAD).

In response to Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit, Lindsay Oliver, Executive Director of World Animal Protection US said in a statement: 

JBS is notorious for making misleading claims and disguising the destruction behind its massive operations. Just this past fall, World Animal Protection released findings linking JBS to illegal land grabbing and deforestation in Brazil, demonstrating their continued disregard for local communities, the environment, and animals. We applaud Attorney General Letitia James for holding the world’s largest meat producer accountable and refusing to let it get away with hiding behind false claims. We can all take part in building a better food system by choosing plant-based diets that protect animals and our planet. 

A 2023 World Animal Protection report found that pig and chicken production from JBS alone causes the emissions equivalent to 14 million cars on the road each year, which is more than double the second-biggest factory farming emitter. To put that in perspective, JBS’s chicken and pig production emits more emissions than all the cars in New York City and almost three times that of cars in Rio de Janeiro annually.

That doesn’t even account for beef production, which was specifically called out by Attorney General James’s office as it’s a significant contributor to global climate change, the top driver of deforestation in tropical forests, and creates more greenhouse gasses than any other major food commodity.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated in its 2024 report that “beef cattle remain the largest contributor to CH4 emissions from enteric fermentation, accounting for 71% in 2022.” Additionally, 3.2 billion acres of land is used to raise the approximately 1.5 billion cows on the planet, roughly 25% of all land used for agriculture.  

Beef production is also the top driver of destruction in the world’s tropical forests. Despite this fact, JBS Group and JBS USA have continued to make claims about beef’s sustainability, going so far as its CEO telling a Climate Week NYC audience that it “pledged to be Net Zero by 2040” and that “steak with zero net emissions is possible.” JBS’s current policy allows illegal deforestation of the Amazon region until 2025 and legal deforestation globally for a further ten years. Even with such policies in force its ability to ensure compliance within its massive supply chain is tenuous. 

Simply put: JBS’s net zero promise is an empty one so long as it continues producing and increasing animal products. But this isn’t the first time the Brazilian meat giant or its international divisions have been caught in controversy, corruption, and deception. 

In 2017, Brazilian police raided more than a dozen meatpacking offices of JBS SA, the world’s largest poultry exporter, and BRF SA, the world’s number one meatpacker. Dubbed “Operation Weak Flesh,” the investigation revealed more than 40 incidents of meatpackers bribing politicians and inspectors to overlook unsanitary conditions and hazardous practices. 

Authorities also found that pigs’ heads were crushed and mixed into sausages, cardboard was mixed with chicken meat, and chemicals were injected into meat to hide the smell of rot. The companies were also injecting water into meat to increase its market weight, making consumers pay more for less product. Two of JBS SA’s executives were arrested in the scandal and several countries implemented trade bans with Brazil’s meat industry at the time. 

In 2022, JBS plants in the US were connected to the illegal use of child labor, with children as young as 13 working overnight cleaning shifts. 

It’s clear the meat industry doesn’t care about deceiving its customers. But it’s the animals who are made to pay the ultimate price as the vast majority of them suffer their entire lives in factory farms—and JBS Group, the world’s largest factory farming company, slaughters 13 million chickens, 128,000 pigs, and 77,000 cows around the world every single day. 

Vow to pull your support of an industry that not only deceives consumers, destroys our planet, and puts our health at risk, but also tortures animals through cruel confinement, mutilations, unnatural, stressful conditions, and ultimately a painful death. Join Plant-Powered Changemakers for help removing animals from your plate today.

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