The raising of livestock, the basis of the economy during colonial times, continued to be a common practice in the 1980s, despite the country's warm climate and hilly interior. The predominant livestock on the island were beef and dairy cattle, chickens, and pigs. The country was essentially self-sufficient in its production of basic meats. Cattle-raising was still the primary livestock activity in the late 1980s, and the Dominican stock exceeded 2 million head, the great majority of which were beef cattle, raised mostly on medium-to-large ranches in the east. The annual output of slaughtered beef surpassed 80,000 tons annually, by the late 1980s, over 10 percent of which was processed by five specially certified slaughterhouses and was exported to the United States. Ranchers also smuggled out much beef to circumvent export duties. The country also contained an undetermined, but dwindling, number of dairy cows. The decline in the dairy cow population was the direct result of years of low government prices for milk. Implemented in an effort to keep milk prices low, this policy dramatically increased milk imports, and it created serious milk shortages. Many private milk pasteurizers consequently closed their businesses in the 1980s. By the late 1980s, only four pasteurizing plants, including one owned by Inespre, processed local milk and reconstituted imported powdered milk.
The poultry industry, in contrast to the dairy industry, enjoyed strong growth in the 1980s. A few large producers supplied the nation with 90,000 tons of broilers a year and with hundreds of millions of eggs. As in other developing countries, the cost of feed continued to play a major role in the pace of the poultry industry's expansion in the 1980s. The pork industry had also rebounded by the mid-1980s, after suffering the virtual eradication of its stock from 1978 to 1982 because of an epidemic of African Swine Fever. Afterward, the Dominican Republic established an increasingly modern and well-organized pork industry. By the late 1980s, however, the national stock exceeded 500,000. This number was well below 1979's peak figure of 750,000, however. The government succeeded in restocking the pig population very rapidly after 1982, but higher feed prices and slack consumer demand for pork, previously a traditional Dominican favorite, in response to high prices had slowed that effort by 1989.
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