Argentina - future breadbasket, if it can overcome itself

The Economist published a recent article on the unprecedented rise of vegetarianism in Argentina, attributing it mostly to restaurant cost and consumer taste, but Eliot Brockner at Latin American Thought looks at local sources and concludes it may have more to do with a shortage of meat:
According to an article from a 2008 trade publication published in October 2008 by the Argentine Regional Consortia of Agricultural Research, Argentina may become a net meat importer for the first time in its history by 2012. Other sources as recent as May 2009 put that date at 2011. Diario Victoria, a local daily from the farm-heavy province of Entre Rios, reported on 13 May 2009 that Argentina may have to import meat as early as 2010.
He cites three main drivers of decreasing production, all quite plausible - oppressive economic policies, drought, and the spread of soy farming driven by global feed demand.

From a production economics perspective, Argentina and Brazil are by far the lowest-cost producers of beef in the world - compared to other countries they have massive tracts of land available for grazing. As global meat demand grows and supply becomes constrained by natural limits on the available land, the profitability of cattle-ranching will grow as well. Soy prices will also rise (feed is the main driver of soy demand growth), so it's not clear how the relative economics shake out and whether ranching will regain its former predominance. But either way, Argentina is one of the world's few natural breadbaskets with considerable additional capacity and will benefit handsomely if (more like when) structural shifts like growing food demand and steeper costs for marginal land and yield improvements lead to higher world food prices - provided the Kirchners and their successors don't get in the way.

Update: A reader correctly points out that biodiesel is another end use driving soy demand, but in magnitude it pales in comparison to meat.

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