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This story about a researcher at my university included this line:

...in recent years global retailers like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart have committed to removing beef and soy produced on deforested land from their supply chain. In turn, commodity traders – companies like Cargill that buy agricultural goods – have put pressure on local producers to follow suit.

The article mentions the difficulty in actually ensuring that no beef or soy comes from deforested land (including the interesting concept of "cattle laundering"), but assuming McDonald's et al are mostly successful: what happens to the farmers?

Do policies such as this do more harm in the long run? Simply cutting off purchase of products from unsustainable farms in developing countries would seem to have drastic consequences. Are there better solutions that would involve working with those farmers, rather than just cutting them off?

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    There's some irony in that much of the farmed land in developed countries was deforested long ago, yet we're happy to purchase produce from that. How recently must the land have been deforested to be considered deforested? There's no clear definition. 20 years down the track, the tree stumps will likely be all be gone, and memories of forest faded, and McDonald's etc will be happy to purchase produce from the land again... it seems a very poor temporary solution to a long term problem. Feb 16 '17 at 23:05
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If you see it this way, maybe it'll make sense to you:

This could be a solution to make ranchers simply stop deforesting, and grow soy for their beast onto existing deforested land.

Of course this means existing deforested land becomes less productive with time. And since no more deforesting, this also means production cannot increase. So this means probably ranchers will earn less "developed country" money.

Yeah, it means us from developed country - mostly traders now, aren't we? - are giving them the lesson: stop destroying your land to send your children to good American schools, and return to farming like you where doing a century ago. Complicate issue.

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Since the harm is already done (area deforested, roads built) they can still sell on the local market or export to nearby nations.

So no beef or soy comes from deforested land makes you feel good buying, but the producers are still fine here selling their goods to the neighbors. It may still lead to road improvement to ship out more, and work farther back into the bush.

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  • I have heavily edited your text to leave in only the answer to the actual question (and to improve layout and language). You can revert the edit if you disagree.
    – user2451
    Feb 19 '17 at 10:40

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