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Cattle Production Warms up with the Weather

30 January 2008

URUGUAY - Uruguay's beef exports will rebound this year as warmer weather improves pastures for cattle grazing, said the country's vice minister of cattle, agriculture and fisheries.

Shipments of beef, the South American nation's biggest export by value, may increase 10 percent this year to about 419,000 metric tons, Vice Minister Ernesto Agazzi said in an interview in Montevideo. Uruguay is the world's seventh-largest beef exporter, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Uruguay last year suffered the coldest Southern Hemisphere winter in more than 50 years, according to the National Meteorological Institute. The cold snap damaged pastures and cut fodder for cattle. Uruguay's beef exports slumped 20 percent to 381,000 tons in 2007, the National Meat Institute said Jan. 2.

Uruguay's beef production will increase ``if the weather is similar to that of the last 10 years,'' Agazzi said today.

Rising beef prices will also encourage ranchers to increase production, Agazzi said. Uruguay's cattle are mostly grass-fed, while the animals in the U.S. and other countries are fed corn in feedlots, Agazzi said.

The U.S. is the biggest buyer of Uruguayan beef, though demand from Russia and the European Union would likely make up for any slack caused by a slowing U.S. economy, he said.

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Source: Bloomberg


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