Recovering Argentina’s herd to 2007 levels will require at least ten years even if current policies, which have caused its downfall, are drastically changed, according to a report from the Catholic University of Argentina released last month.
Professor Federio Santangelo said that the problem is not only the adverse climate conditions but also the “interventionist” policies, which have jointly helped to “a drastic fall in the national herd estimated in the loss of 8.6 million head of cattle”.
To make things worse, of that number “five million are cows and heifers which will have an impact for the future of the national rodeo”.
The report also wars that if current policies are not reviewed, “in the mid-term beef production in Argentina will only be enough for 50 kilos per capita and exports down to 300.000 tons annually”
The research financed by the Liniers Cattle market and the Association of Farm Products Consigners established different possible scenarios, until 2020, for Argentina’s livestock through dynamic simulation models in which considerations such as weaning percentages, calves retention rates and carcass weight are involved.
Historically Argentina has had a cattle herd above 55 million.
Three graduate students were involved in the research.
“Argentina can satisfy the demand for food both from the domestic and overseas markets but currently is submerged in a crisis because of the prolonged drought of the last five years and the expansion of agriculture: 13 million hectares have turned into farmland”, said Virigina Passanitti.
Alain Bissaur compared the livestock sectors of Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
“Brazil is the world’s main beef export because of a strong support policy from the government which has enabled the country to supply the domestic market and multiply its exports”, with several Brazilian corporations dominating the world meats’ market.
In Uruguay “a policy of minimum government intervention led to a boom in public and private investments which allowed the country to have access to the most demanding markets of the world, such as the United States and Canada, but they have also managed to increase the national herd by another three million head in the last the years”.
Regarding landlocked Paraguay, the number of cattle jumped by a million which enabled the country to boost its exports during the last decade without limiting domestic market consumption.
Fernando Gil, Professor of the Agriculture School from the Catholic University anticipates that unless there’s a dramatic review of current government policies, Argentines will have to get used to a per capita consumption of 50 kilos of beef, while annual exports could drop below 300.000 tons.