Burning Questions
Fellowships Award Winners

Silvina Pezzetta

Location: Argentina
Academic field: Law
Award category: PhD Holder

Guidance Memo

  • Title (English original): The path towards CAFO in Argentina: The 2020 Argentina-China agreement and the absence of animal welfare considerations in the intensification of animal agriculture
  • Title (Spanish translation): El proceso de intensificación de la ganadería en Argentina: El rol del acuerdo porcino del 2020 y la ausencia de estándares de Bienestar animal en la intensificación ganadera
  • Keywords: Animal agriculture. Pigs. Cattle. Chickens. Trade and export. Investments. Animal welfare. Argentina. China.
  • What We Learned From It:
    • After reading the Guidance Memo, we have a better understanding of the following questions: What factors have led Argentina to intensify its pig farming? How did the 2020 government agreement with Chinese investors to build mega pig farms in the country come about? What were stakeholders' response? Did animal welfare matter?
    • First: Argentina's economy and international trade plays a huge role in intensifying the country's animal agriculture, with robust support for the agro-export sector from the government. The introduction of GMO soy in the 1990s led Argentina to pivot toward planting soy to feed Chinese pigs and to intensify its own cattle production.
    • Second: Argentina identifies strongly with agricultural activities, meat production and consumption. Chicken production is almost completely intensified, and products are consumed domestically. Pig production is mainly extensive or semi-intensive, and the sector aims to increase productivity.
    • Third: The 2020 agreement to invest in mega pig farms is best viewed as a chapter of Argentina's economic, diplomatic, and trade relationship with China, which began in the 2000s. But there was a new driver - the outbreak of the African Swine Flu (ASF) that decimated Chinese pork production.
    • Fourth: Socio-environmental groups were the most active stakeholders and initiated the public debate. With the endorsement of animal rights advocates, they led the opposition to the agreement. Small and medium pork producers were involved in the debate because they feared potential competition from the mega farms.
    • Fifth: Animal welfare did not feature in the agreement and was barely mentioned by stakeholders. The legal framework for farm animal welfare in Argentina is vague and inadequate, and animal welfare training opportunities are lacking.
    • Sixth: Changes need to happen on three levels. Structural (e.g. move away from intensified animal agriculture). Institutional (e.g. support agencies such as INTA and CONICET to develop protein alternatives). Individual (e.g. inform the public of farm animal welfare).


Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application 

  • Globalization and international trade is a powerful driver of the industrialization of animal farming in emerging economies. Very often these developments are hidden from public view and rarely reach media outlets as these transactions are conducted by bureaucrats and parties behind closed doors, and involve arcane processes. The 2020 agreement between Argentina and China to install mega pig farms in various areas of Argentina with Chinese investments in order to export 900,000 tons of pork to China every year is an exception. It garnered media attention as well as public debates in Argentina. We think this case offers a concrete example to illustrate how globalization and international trade actually results in building large-scale farms in a developing country.
  • The applicant's plan to look into whether animal welfare issues played a role was of interest to us. 


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