Drought threatens beef supply in Argentina

by Bryan Salvage
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BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — In the next two years, consumers in Argentina will have to reduce their red-meat consumption by almost one-third due to a looming cattle shortage, predicted Hugo Biolcati, head of the Argentine Rural Society, according to Bloomberg.

Beef consumption will drop to 50 kilograms (110 lbs.) per person in 2011 from 70 kilograms (154 lbs.) this year, Mr. Biolcati said. As a result of this shortage, there won’t be enough Argentinean beef to export, he added.

Behind this beef shortage is the worst drought in a century, which is drying up pastures and crops in 80% of the Argentine Pampas. As a result of the drought, some ranchers are being forced to let their livestock die in the fields at a time when birth rates are declining.

In July, cattle slaughtering increased to a record 1.1 million head as ranchers sold off their herds, according to the Argentine Beef Industry and Commerce Chamber. Because more than half of all cattle slaughtered was breeding stock, the herd may shrink even further.

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