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Brazil - Livestock Production

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Brazil - Livestock Production

Brazil's livestock sector went through a similar process of selective modernization. Until the early 1970s, it remained quite backward; its expansion relied chiefly on the incorporation of more land and animals into production. Following the expansion of agribusiness complexes, livestock production processes also changed. However, major differences exist between the modern and the traditional segments of the beef-cattle, poultry, and swine subsectors--the country's main livestock subsectors.

Between 1970 and 1991, Brazil's beef-cattle herd grew at a 3.1 percent average yearly rate, from 78.5 million to 152.1 million head; the slaughter of beef-cattle increased from 9.6 million to 13.9 million head; and the total carcass weight increased from 1.8 million to 2.9 million tons. However, these numbers hide large regional differences (see table 11, Appendix). The beef-cattle industry in areas near the country's more developed core has experienced considerable modernization, interlocked with the expansion of a dynamic agribusiness sector, which supplies the industry with modern inputs and slaughters and processes its animals for domestic and world markets. As a result, Brazil's beef exports increased from 98,300 tons of chilled beef and 15,800 tons of processed beef in 1970, at a total value of US$298.6 million (in 1992 dollars), to 96,800 tons of chilled beef and 127,300 tons of processed beef in 1992, at a total value of US$618.1 million. A still substantial traditional beef-cattle industry can be found in the frontier areas or in the more backward parts of Brazil; its productivity remains very low, and it is plagued by serious sanitary and management problems.

The poultry subsector experienced spectacular improvements from 1970 to 1991, changing from a small, backyard-based production into a modern industry. This change is reflected in the fact that, while the poultry flock increased 2.8 times between 1970 and 1990, from 214.3 million to 594.3 million head, the total carcass weight of the fowl slaughtered commercially increased twenty-one times, from 85,400 to 1.8 million tons. Moreover, the export of poultry products, which in 1970 was negligible, in 1992 amounted to 378,000 tons, representing a total value of US$455.6 million. The transformation of the poultry subsector into a modern industry was achieved through the development of agribusiness complexes. These modern enterprises play a central role; they provide farmers with inputs, with genetic material, and with technical assistance, in addition to buying the finished poultry from the farmers.

As for pork, the swine herd increased only 33.9 percent between 1970 and 1991, from 25.6 million to 34.3 million animals. However, a small portion of this subsector experienced considerable changes, also induced by agribusiness. Until the early 1990s, the Brazilian swine herd was composed overwhelmingly of mixed breeds of low-quality, lard-producing animals. Moreover, the management of the herd was primitive, and poor sanitation was a problem. The growing modern segment of the pork industry has a high-quality herd of meat-producing animals. Management practices have improved considerably, and there is a similar interaction between farmers and commercial and industrial enterprises.

Data as of April 1997



About Brazil
Table A. Selected Acronyms and Abbreviations
Table B. Chronology of Important Events
Transportation and Communications
Government and Politics
National Security

Historical Setting

The Society and Its Environment

The Economy

Historical Background and Economic Growth

- The Colonial Period
The Sugar Cycle, 1540-1640
The Eighteenth-Century Gold Rush

- The Economy at Independence, 1822
- The Coffee Economy, 1840-1930
- A Period of Sweeping Change, 1930-45
- Import-Substitution Industrialization, 1945-64
- Stagnation and Spectacular Growth, 1962-80
Stagnation, 1962-67
Spectacular Growth, 1968-73

Growth with Debt, 1974-80

- Stagnation, Inflation, and Crisis, 1981-94
The 1981-84 Period
The 1985-89 Period

The 1990-94 Period

The Labor Force and Income Levels
- Employment and Earnings


- Inequality and Poverty
Structure of Production
- Agriculture
- Livestock
- Fishing
- Industry
- Mining
- Energy
Electric Power
Natural Gas
Nuclear Power

- The Services Sector

Inland Waterways
Merchant Marine

Exchange-Rate and Balance of Payments Policies
- Exchange Rates and Foreign Trade
- Capital Flows and the External Debt
Fiscal and Monetary Policy, the Public Sector, and Inflation
- Fiscal Trends in the 1980s
- Pressures on Public-Sector Expenditures in the 1980s
- Fiscal Deficits and Inflation
Brazil's Real Plan
Trade Policies
Trade Patterns and Regional Economic Integration
Economic Outlook

Government and Politics

National Security

Science and Technology

Brazil Travel and Tourism
Belo Horizonte
- Fernando de Noronha
- Foz do Iguaçu
- Porto Alegre
- Rio de Janeiro
- Salvador Bahia
- São Paulo

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Brazilian Currency
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Information About Brazil
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Travel to Brazil
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