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Sysco Steps in as Hochul Considers Deforestation Bill

Sysco, a multinational food corporation, is lobbying New York Governor Kathy Hochul over the state’s potential adoption of a climate legislation that aims to halt companies contributing to tropical deforestation. The bill has bipartisan support and would make New York the first state to regulate deforestation in companies’ supply chains. Sysco has registered to lobby Hochul on the legislation, as it has clear links to deforestation through its suppliers. The company has made no public comments about the bill, but lobbying efforts suggest Sysco has the administration’s ear.

The legislation has drawn attention from environmental and human rights organizations, Indigenous leaders, and international environmental groups. Other companies doing business in New York and investors managing over $2.5 trillion in assets have shown support for the bill. Nevertheless, building material suppliers, business groups, and the Empire State Forest Products Association have raised concerns about potential increased costs due to the legislation.

The bill would leverage New York’s spending power to require contractors to certify that their products were not sourced from land that has been deforested or degraded since January 1, 2023. It would also close loopholes in a 1995 state ban on the use of tropical hardwoods.

Sysco’s lobbying efforts have been in collaboration with Bolton-St. Johns, the same firm lobbying for the bill. While the company has promoted itself as environmentally responsible, concerns raised by Sysco include difficulties in complying with the legislation. Friends of the Earth has highlighted that companies, including Sysco, have policies on no deforestation, but without government regulations, there is no accountability. The bill is seen as a way to hold companies accountable for their environmental and social impacts. As the October deadline for Governor Hochul’s decision approaches, the outcome of the lobbying efforts on this vital climate legislation will be watched by many.

Photo credit nysfocus.com


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