Pig Farming Makes Inroads In Beef-Loving Argentina

A pig farm outside Buenos Aires is a carefully planned, self-sustaining and multidimensional business that shows how Argentina stays ahead in the competitive world of food production.

Preparing meat at Estancias y Cabaña Las Lilas
Preparing meat at Estancias y Cabaña Las Lilas
Pablo Losada

SAN ANTONIO DE ARECO — Estancias y Cabaña Las Lilas is one of Argentina's leading livestock firms, prospering in a country that loves beef and barbecues.

And while the firm was already known for breeding cattle and for efficient land management, it began feasibility studies in 2013 for for a pig farm in San Antonio de Areca, a province west of Buenos Aires. By mid-2015, it had a functioning farm there called Piggyland, tapping into the growing pork consumption in bovine-crazy Argentina.

Like the firm's beef business, the pig farming operations works in three areas: breeding and selling fresh meat, and serving its meat in the brand's own restaurant in the capital.

"We spotted a strategic opportunity."

Oscar Ratto, manager of Piggyland, said the firm's directors had no doubt there was a business to build around pork consumption. "We spotted a strategic opportunity in the pig business and in the consumption of fresh pork meat in Argentina," he recalled. "It was also a form of generating added value through consumption of more corn" that the firm grows elsewhere.

Ratto, who touts a degree in economics, has been working with the firm since 2003. In the first stage of the new pig-farming operation, the firm built 12 sheds on a 35-hectare plot, with some serving as slaughtering operations and others for maternity, weaning and genetic selection. The second phase of Piggyland is planned to begin in 2021 to more than double the breeding capacity. Sows generally give birth to 13 piglets on average, though Ratto says they need three years to reach their optimum reproductive state.

Meanwhile, as the business perfects its insemination and reproductive model, it has begun thinking about energy use. Las Lilas is set to complete work on four biodigestors to produce biogas and then electric power. Ratto says the aim is for the caloric energy needed for motherhood will then be "converted" into electricity for the entire farm. The aim is to be energy self-sufficient.

Piggyland is conceived as a multi-dimensional business model with fresh meat sales as its backbone. The firm is not worried about pressures in the local market to sell imported pork. "We produce meat for direct consumption, while the imported meat is frozen and ends up mixed into meat products. We are aiming at different markets. We believe our quality products and services will be a reference worldwide," says Ratto.

He points out the role of corn, a strategic cereal essential to much livestock farming. "We consume 4,000 tons a year on the farm, and bring them from fields the firm has in Pasteur, which is not far from San Antonio de Areco," says Ratto. "This in turn leads to 3,500 tons of pork meat, which we sell directly to customers."

Investment, technology, sustainability: these are the values on which the veteran firm is banking to expand in the age of high-tech farming.

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"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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