July 4, 2006


Argentina allows ranchers to export more beef



Argentina's government has decided to lift restrictions on certain top-dollar beef exports for at least 60 days, Economy Minister Felisa Miceli said at a press conference Monday (Jul 3).


In March, the government banned almost all beef exports to prevent rapidly rising domestic and international demand from pushing local prices up. Since then the government has partially lifted the ban and has allowed exporters to ship up to 40 percent of what they sold between June and December of last year.


However, ranchers and farm groups had recently threatened to carry out a nationwide strike unless the government further opened the export market. After the ban on exports, local livestock prices declined by around 30 percent, leading many ranchers to say that selling cattle was no longer a profitable business.


Beginning this week, ranchers will be allowed to ship an unlimited amount of top-dollar, rump cuts, Miceli said.


Miceli also said ranchers will be allowed to renew exports of beef to countries that have signed bilateral food-import treaties with Argentina.


The ban on beef has led ranchers to sell less, pushing beef production down.


Argentina slaughtered less cattle in April than it has during any month since 1990, according to a recent report from the Argentine Beef Industry and Trade Chamber.


Some 841,653 head of cattle were slaughtered in April. That is 21 percent less than what was slaughtered the previous month and 30 percent less than the previous year, the chamber said.


The chamber said the government's move in March to ban beef exports was "clearly responsible" for the decline.


The lower slaughter rate pushed production levels down.


Argentina produced 191,000 tonnes of boned beef in April, down 23 percent from March and down 27 percent from April 2005.


Last year Argentina was the world's third-ranked beef exporter, shipping about US$1.4 billion worth of beef.