Where's the beef?

Looking around at the butcher’s place and found this instead: “There’s no meat at the moment. Thank you, come again”

There’s a huge shortage of meat across the land. Butchers are struggling to fill their inventories as national production has declined sharply and imports are taking longer to arrive. Public inspectors are forcing businesses to sell at a loss (because price controls). The choice that remains is to either sell what’s left or simply close shop until who knows when.

Earlier this week was supposed to be make-or-break time, as a meeting between the central government and meat producers and distributors was set. Recently-appointed Agriculture Minister José Luis Berroterán Núñez assured the public that “people must be certain that we’ll adjust what needs to be adjusted, but must be calm and confident that their pockets won’t be hurt.” As if a change in controlled prices won’t hurt people’s wallets…

So, how did the meeting go? According to El Carabobeño, a new deal was not reached.

Butchers asked for Bs. 100 per kilo of standing cattle, contrary to the government’s proposal of Bs. 78, which is based on an “outdated” cost structure…

The government studies the possibility of applying a special subsidy system to the meat sector, through a bonus to compensate production costs, agricultural supplies and cattle renewal …”

So, to solve a problem created by price distortions, the central government’s solution is simply to spend money it doesn’t have, fueling another one (inflation). Remember, this is coming from the same folks who want to raise heavily-subsidized gasoline prices and yet, keep on procastinating about it. Cue Gustavo’s complete lack of surprise.

As the deadlock continues, some butcher shops are offering alternative options. Others prefer to offer just one thing …