Newly elected Argentine President Mauricio Macri is moving forward with his pledge to reform the country’s agricultural sector and make it more competitive in the global marketplace. One of Macri’s main initiatives is to phase out tariffs on agricultural exports, including a 15 percent tariff on beef exports, which his predecessors used to try to keep food and feedgrain prices affordable for domestic consumers. But the export tariffs often backfired by hurting farmers’ and ranchers’ profitability, causing them to cut production.
Argentina’s beef cattle herd shrank from a high of 55.6 million head in 2008 to just 48 million in 2011. USDA estimates that the herd will rebound to about 52 million head in 2016.
Once the world’s third-largest beef exporter, Argentina fell to 10th place in 2014. This year (through October), Argentina’s beef/beef variety meat exports are steady with 2014’s pace in volume at 202,948 metric tons (mt) but down 15 percent in value at $907.8 million. This is due in part to large variety meat exports to Russia, which have bolstered Argentina’s export volume but command low prices. China is now the leading volume destination for Argentina’s beef muscle cut exports (36,520 mt, +151 percent) followed by the European Union and Chile.