Buenos Aires, November 29th. A quiet and underground debate is taking place in the beef cattle value chain: must the government authorize the export of live cattle? Argentine cattlemen look at the border country Uruguay where live cattle exports have been steadily growing until overpassing 300,000 beef cattle heads this year.

Cattlemen argue that slaughterhouse operates as a monopsony, fixing a lower price to steers and calves. “They don’t transfer to the ranchers the benefits of an increasing export market”, they say. Historically, meatpackers strongly opposed to export cattle live. But now, the feedlots (which buy the calves) don’t seem to welcome this possibility.

“We are talking to export no more than 5 or 7% of the total calves or light steers per year. This does not impact negatively over the offer to slaughterhouses and help ranchers to access to a better price for his animals”, the former chairman of the Food and Agricultural National Health and Quality Service (SENASA) and an active participant of the influential digital platform Gurú Ganadero, Bernardo Cané, opined in dialogue with www.eFarmNewsAr.com.

“Most leading countries on beef cattle give ranchers the option to export live animals. Why shouldn’t Argentina do the same? Mr. Cané asks himself. In fact, Australian ABARE shows that during 2015, 1.3 million cattle head were exported, mainly from Indonesia and Vietnam. “Muslim countries are active buyers of live cattle. But Western European countries also buy live cattle from the Eastern. We have an opportunity and we shouldn’t misspend it”, Mr. Cané adds.

“It’s my personal opinion because our confederation is discussing the point, but I think that the ranchers must have the option to sell their calves to whoever they want”, the chairman of the Argentine Rural Confederations (CRA), Dardo Chiesa, told to www.eFarmNewsAr.com. He said that despite the beef exports are rising there was not “spill” over the cattlemen. “Is a deep discussion (to export live cattle) but I’m in favor of business freedom. I reject the imposition of minimum slaughter weight and I think that to export live cattle could act as a price “corrective” in the livestock market”, Mr. Chiesa opined.

It is a deep discussion, but President Macri has the last word. He heads the “beef roundtable” where the most relevant leaders of the local cattle and beef business discuss the policies. But surely, President Macri need a wide support from ranchers if he, finally, decides to open the live cattle exports, to deal not only with the opposition of the industry and the feedlots but the Animal’s Rights movement.