The Rainforest Alliance and its partners in the Sustainable Agriculture Network are working with cowboys and ranchers to transform the cattle industry. Here, Reginaldo Bonifácio de Oliveira, a cowboy in Mato Grosso, Brazil, shares his story.
My name is Reginaldo Bonifácio de Oliveira, and I’ve worked for Fazendas São Marcelo for eight years. Vale do Sepotuba, the ranch where I work, is located in Tangará da Serra in western Brazil, in the state of Mato Grosso. I was born and raised in the same state, in the mountainous ranching community of Salto do Céu. I’m married and have three children.
I am the lead cowboy on the ranch, and my day starts at around 6 a.m. I work on all aspects of managing the herd [which includes vaccinating and deworming the cattle; weighing and feeding them; and evaluating the condition of the ranch’s pastures].
"Certification has changed the way I think about my work and how I treat the animals and my team members."Reginaldo Bonifácio de Oliveira, cowboy, Fazendas São Marcelo, Brazil
Before I started working at Fazendas São Marcelo, I had never heard about certification. [Now I know that it] concerns itself with animal welfare, the environment and the well-being of employees, both in their work lives and personal lives. We have received training in proper animal welfare practices, calving and birthing, and first aid, as well as how to tame the horses.
Certification has changed the way I think about my work and how I treat the animals and my team members. We have seen [new programs] in the community, the cattle are less aggressive and the taming of horses has shifted to a humane and rational approach. The environment is taking back its natural place. It’s increased the number of wildlife we see on the ranch grounds—they seem comfortable here.
I’m happy to be part of the program, especially given that it is changing the way people view ranching in Brazil today. We’re looking for innovative ways to reduce the impact of ranching on the environment.