August 30, 2008


Stringent policies may force Argentina to import beef by 2012


Current livestock policies could force Argentina to import beef by 2012 if left modified, but current tonnage could increase by 50 percent if rules are changed, according to the Argentine Regional Consortia of Agriculture Research, Aacrea.


With increasing consumption but decreasing supply, it is estimated that Argentina would have to import beef to supply the domestic market by 2012 and the country will disappear from international markets, Aacrea general coordinator Belisario Alvarez de Toledo said.


In recent years, cattle stock (mainly cows) has been falling, carcass weight declining and cattle breeding pushed to poorer areas where productivity is lower.


Alvarez de Toledo said they have 21 less calves for each 100 cows forced to graze in poor lands.


Increasing regulations and government intervention in beef trade are responsible for the situation, according to Alvarez de Toledo, adding that calf prices have remained static since 2006 but costs have surged 50 percent.


Argentina's cattle stock stopped growing in 2005, but the number of animals sent to slaughterhouses keeps increasing which indicates a smaller stock, Alvarez de Toledo said.


However, Alvarez de Toledo said, the situation could change positively if the government stops intervening in markets and if promotion conditions are sponsored.


"This means four basic points - price, reliability, technology and farmers which combine these factors and ensure the sustainability of his farm and of the industry," he said.


If the weaning ratio could increase to 75 percent from the current 62 percent, Argentina could produce 2.7 million more calves with the same number of cows that the country now possesses, Alvarez de Toledo said, adding that with similar advanced techniques, the current area with livestock could increase by 49 percent, which is 5.7 million cows or 1.5 million tonnes of beef.


The Argentine beef industry is unable to expand because of rules governing domestic and overseas beef sales, according to Alvarez de Toledo.

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