Argentina’s Beef Industry.

In 2006 Argentina was the world’s third largest beef exporter (behind Brazil, then Australia).  9 years later, production levels have been slashed and export levels remain way down the list.

Why? Largely because in 2006, the Argentinian Government had the bright idea of currying favour with voters by reducing the domestic price of beef.  How did they aim to reduce the domestic price of beef? They banned beef exports.

So what did beef producers do? Well it’s a commonsense no-brainer, really – they stopped selling, reduced production & waited for prices to rise.

After all, farms are businesses. Farmers need income to feed themselves! They aren’t charities set up to feed the masses at a loss.

The Argentinian Government also introduced a 15% tax on beef exports (yes you read correctly – that’s exports; not imports).

The American Beef Magazine has a really good summary of what happened, called “Argentina provides a lesson on how to ruin a beef industry”.

Oh that sort of idiocy wouldn’t happen in Australia, would it!

Well it did, in 2011, when the Australian Federal Government made a snap decision to respond to animal right’s activist campaigning, and banned live exports overnight.

And, surprise surprise – just like what happened in Argentina, government interference caused results completely contrary to the aim.

Instead of animal cruelty suddenly ceasing worldwide, thousands of cattle ready to be exported were left to languish with nowhere to go, as they were unsaleable.

Great pressure was placed on the environment and on people, as well as animal welfare.

Now Australia’s live export industry is finally humming along again, Australia continues to be able to invest money, time and effort into raising animal welfare in the countries we export to.

Work that absolutely would not happen if Australian livestock were not being delivered to these countries.  Because Australia wouldn’t be in a position to offer training and advice, nor would money and time be available to do so.

No Australian animal rights organisations have invested any resources into improving animal handling standards in other countries.  Only Australian livestock producers have put their money where their mouths are.

What happened to the beef export industry of Argentina and Australia is a cautionary tale.  The business principle of supply and demand is fundamental.  And the more profitable farmers are, the better quality food they can produce, the more self-sufficient they become, and the more money they have to invest in looking after their livestock and managing their land well for future generations.  Tax rebates are one of the very best ways to help farmers manage their farm production business and the environment.

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