The country's livestock industries accounted for nearly a third of all output in the agricultural sector and met the nation's basic meat consumption needs. The pork and poultry industries fared well during the 1980s, while the beef and dairy industries struggled. The cattle industry, a mainstay of Venezuela's central plains for centuries, failed to modernize along with the pork and poultry industries during the 1970s and 1980s. The low prices paid by the government, combined with producer export taxes, hurt cattle ranchers, who did not export for several years during the 1980s. Both cattle ranchers and dairy farmers were unable to maximize production. The government sought to intervene in the case of the dairy industry, providing various levels of subsidies, especially for consumers. These policies proved unsuccessful, however, and did more to promote corruption in milk distribution than efficiency in production. By 1990 the country was only 40 percent self-sufficient in milk. Many of the subsidies were likely targets of market-oriented reforms in the early 1990s.
The poultry and pork industries succeeded in bringing more modern production techniques to Venezuela beginning in the 1970s. Some 2.5 million pigs were slaughtered in 1988, up from 1.7 million in 1980. The poultry industry also increased production, from 156 million broilers in 1980 to 251 million in 1988. The country exported modest amounts of poultry in the mid-1980s. Both the pork and poultry industries, however, faced increased costs after 1989 as a result of the exchange rate liberalization that raised the cost of imported feeds.
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