Land of Lush Patures Turns to Feedlots

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - Argentina's fame as a home for happy cows wandering the lush pastures of the Pampas is being challenged as an increasing number of cattle are being crowded into feedlots for the last months of their lives before being served at the table.
calendar icon 3 December 2008
clock icon 1 minute read

According to Shane Romig of the Wall Street Journal, while feedlots are common in the U.S., Canada and Europe, Argentina has built up a strong brand as the land of purely grass-fed steak, with flocks of tourists lauding the lean, flavorful steaks served up in Buenos Aires' ubiquitous steakhouses.

But the high price of croplands across the Pampas, says the Wall Street Journal, higher relative profits for growing grains and government subsidies on feed designed to stimulate production is leading to a surge in the use of feedlots.

However, only feedlots supplying the domestic market are subsidized by the government, said Miguel Gorelik, director of leading beef exporter Quickfood SA. U.S. imports from Argentina were only 1.2 per cent of all fresh beef imported through September 2008, according to the U.S. Agriculture department.

Rising cropland prices mean more of Argentina's cows, like these headed to market in Buenos Aires in January, have moved to feedlots from pastures.

However, in the future more grain-fattened meat is likely to be shipped overseas by Argentina, the world's fifth-leading beef exporter. "Argentina is going to be a proficient producer of both feedlot and grass-fed beef," Mr. Gorelik told the Wall Street Journal.

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