Argentina's transforming cattle rancher : a political economic look at instability and resilience

by Benjamin S. Nugent

Institution: San Diego State University
Year: 2013
Record ID: 2021040
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10211.10/3529


Like cattle ranchers around the world, ranchers in Argentina must manage a variety of shifting and unpredictable pressures. Ranchers have little control over environmental, economic, or political forces, but must find ways to deal with them as such forces can greatly affect production. Despite a long history in Argentina and significant influence over much of the national culture, ranching has faced many stresses through the last decade that have led to changes in the activity and in land use in general. Considering the fact that ranching has persisted in Argentina despite strong challenges, this thesis asks two main questions  – how and why? Semi-structured interviews with ranch owners across three regions of Argentina were conducted to better understand exactly what changes have been made to ranch operations, how such changes align with ranchers' goals, and how ranchers identify with their livelihood. Because the main frustrations of ranchers are instability and unpredictability, mostly concerning national agropastoral policies, research participants focused on resilience and the ability to deal with unexpected shifts in policy or weather. Results show that "professionalization" and diversification play major roles in reducing vulnerability to stresses, but that a family's land may be the most valuable factor in creating a sense of security. The qualitative nature of this research is intended to paint a more nuanced picture of cattle ranching as the complex and volatile livelihood that it is, and ultimately should help inform future ranching and agricultural policies.