The Outlook for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Americas: A Perspective on Latin America and the Caribbean
livesctock in LAC


  • cow and chicken
    Participation of LAC in global production of bovine meat and poultry
  • meat
    Increase in the daily caloric contribution of livestock products in LAC
  • poultry
    Increase in poultry consumption in LAC (2000-2016)
  • Despite the fact that livestock in the Region represents only 9% of world inventories, the countries of the region produce approximately a fourth of meat and poultry in the world. In the case of eggs and dairy, the region contributes with approximately 10% of total world production for both products and close to 7% of all swine meat.

  • The growth of livestock production in LAC has significantly impacted the daily caloric intake, that is approximately equivalent to 572 Kcal, which is superior to the aggregate average of developing countries (189 Kcal/capita/day) and also higher than the world average (514 Kcal/capita/day). In the region dairy is the product of animal origin that has the largest contribution to caloric intake (168 Kcal/capita/day).

  • Even though is important to achieve all of the SDG, there is consensus that five are the most important objectives from the livestock production point of view: a) eradicate poverty in all its forms and globally (SDG1); b) end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture (SDG 2): c) ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG12); d) take urgent actions to combat climate change and its impacts (SDG13); and e) protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forest, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss (SDG15).

  • It is important to make progress in the generation of evidence related to the contribution of livestock to poverty reduction, food and nutritional security, the sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystemic services. This evidence should generate data and indicators that allow decision makers create incentives and conduct strategic investments considering the important social, economic and environmental impact of the livestock sector.

Summary of: Livestock

Livestock production in LAC continues to grow at a rapid pace. Although the countries of the region represent only 9% of the world’s population, they produce around a quarter of the world’s meat and poultry. Additionally, the region accounts for approximately 10% of the global production of eggs and milk and about 7% of pork production. LAC is clearly emerging as a major world supplier of animal protein. This growth in demand is occurring at a time when, as noted in the 2030 Agenda, concerns about resource scarcity, climate change and the need for more equitable development are becoming increasingly important. In LAC, the rapid growth of livestock production is more the result of higher inventories than the adoption of technologies to improve performance. Currently, there are several related issues affecting the livestock industry in LAC, including political uncertainty, foreign investment in agriculture, technology and animal diseases.

Going forward, the continued growth of the livestock industry in LAC will depend increasingly on improved efficiency resulting from the adoption of new technology and vertical integration. Intensification, sustainability, environmental impacts, climate change and public policies will affect the rate and course of production expansion. Key factors for the continued strong performance of the meat industry in LAC include low grain prices, the intensification of production, higher per capita incomes, continued change in consumer preferences from beef and lamb to chicken and pork, and policies designed to stimulate production and minimize environmental impacts.

Livestock is one of the fastest growing agricultural sub-sectors in developing countries, but experience shows that rapid growth per se does not necessarily translate into benefits for the poor. In order for growth in the livestock sector to contribute efficiently to poverty alleviation, strategies should primarily focus on eliminating obstacles in the access of rural households to assets, particularly land and capital. As small and medium-scale producers increase their production, the demand for services, inputs, feed and genetic resources is likely to increase, which will require greater involvement of the private sector to complement public sector services.

Animal diseases will represent a constant threat, considering the rapid growth of the livestock industry in LAC. Additionally, climate change will create new problems of disease emergence or resurgence. Countries will continue to strengthen their systems for conducting surveillance and addressing health emergencies at all levels, with the main challenge of extending these services to small-scale livestock producers. Given that many animal diseases cross borders easily, effective multinational cooperation will prove useful in monitoring and controlling diseases. It will also be necessary to strengthen the minimum health standards established by regional, sub-regional and national institutions to address cross-border animal health and food safety crises, as well as improve the efficiency of actions in the early stages of outbreaks (monitoring and preparation).

To meet the challenges associated with the sustainable development of the livestock sector, it is important to implement comprehensive public policy strategies that go beyond the sectoral scope by addressing topics related to investment, financing, innovation, sustainable development and social inclusion. The sustainable development of the livestock sector involves optimizing its performance while linking aspects related to production, the environment and social justice. This requires the development and implementation of initiatives aimed at contributing to the efficient use of resources, strengthening resilience, guaranteeing equity and social responsibility in livestock activity, strengthening public policy frameworks that favor the development of a sustainable livestock industry, coordinating and harmonizing the institutional capacities of the entities responsible for supervising interactions between livestock producers and the environment, and promoting the adoption of new production technologies for sustainable livestock activity. Consensus among governments and diverse stakeholders in pursuit of a transformative vision of economic, social and environmental sustainability would comply with the SDGs. Family livestock producers are important actors in the development process and play a strategic role in achieving food and nutritional security in rural areas. Greater integration of family producers in markets will not only help to meet future demand for high-quality animal products, but will also create more opportunities for producers to move up the social ladder and, eventually, out of poverty.