Maronês cattle breeders halved in a decade

in News · 22-08-2013 10:55:00 · 0 Comments
Maronês cattle breeders halved in a decade

In ten years the number of families who earn a living from breeding Maronês cattle have dropped by more than half, from 3,000 to 1,300, with the activity being even further jeopardised by the ageing of breeders and new fiscal obligations.

There are still many villages in the mountain ranges of Alvão and Marão, northeast of Vila Real (northern Portugal) where Maronês cattle are bred and almost every home has at least one cow.
However, new tax obligations in which the owners of agricultural land have to register with Financial and Welfare services to ensure they keep receiving farming and breeding subsidiaries are deterring families from keeping up the activity.
In some households, in such villages, financial support granted to help the livestock also goes a long way towards helping with household bills.
According to breeders the price per kilo of Maronês meat is practically the same as it was twenty years ago but buying power is dwindling and production costs have increased.

Add to this the ageing of breeders plus the recently-introduced fiscal obligations, and the future of the Maronês looks less than rosy with an increasing number of breeders giving up on the activity, particularly those who keep just a few heads of cattle.
Young Maronês veal can earn breeders up to €500, but monthly tax deductions can also reach into the hundreds, depending on how many heads of cattle the breeders own.
Virgílio Alves, of the Vila Real-based Maronesa Meat Production Group, has stressed the implications the new tax rules might have on breeders: “These are bureaucracies that do not have any need to exist, quite the contrary. They are jeopardising the activity of many producers.”
At present the Maronêsa meat market is, like most other sectors, also being negatively affected by the crisis. A vast part of the meat’s main consumers, the middle class, are no longer able to pay the higher prices for Maronêsa meat, meaning producers are being forced to find new sectors, such as tourism, in which consumers are able to pay the higher prices.
Around 60 percent of the meat is consumed by the region in which it is produced: “This is where our biggest objective and strategy lies; to make the product an anchor of our gastronomic tourism”, Mr. Alves added.
As it is an activity that is of “naturally low income”, Virgílio Alves believes it is an “interesting” activity to complement another job or for those who may already be retired.


Be the first to comment on this article
Interactive Topics, send us your comments/opinion on this article.

Please note that The Portugal News may use selected comments in the printed edition of the newspaper.