The new administration of Jair Bolsonaro is unwinding a decade of progress in reducing deforestation, slashing funding to the agencies charged with protecting the forest. Bolsonaro owes his rise largely to a political coalition known as "Bibles, Bullets, and Beef," and a landed elite known as "ruralistas," who support opening up the forest to development. The biggest driver of deforestation is no longer soy, it’s cattle. Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef, and much of it comes from the Amazon. In fact, 20 percent of cattle in the Amazon biome come from one state alone. That state, called Pará, has become the frontline in a battle that could determine the future of the Amazon.
This project is a journey through an area known as the arc of deforestation, exploring how the global demand for beef is destroying the forest. Jesse Hyde follows the supply chain of beef from illegally deforested lands to American restaurants and grocery stores, tells the stories of land defenders who are increasingly coming into violent conflict with large agribusiness, and profile those tasked with protecting the forest despite massive budget cuts.