I then measured the role each province played in the beef trade. My first measure was the
province’s share of the national stock of cattle, on the assumption that provinces with more cattle would participate more actively in exports. The second measure focused on chilled beef, 99 percent of which was sold to Britain. Argentines typically converted their best cattle into chilled beef while reserving the lower grades for frozen and canned meat. Before sending these “chillers” to the slaughterhouse, ranchers fattened the top-grade calves on special alfalfa pastures in east-central Argentina. The fatteners, who controlled the dry, flat terrain where alfalfa flourished, belonged to the upper class and enjoyed more economic and political influence than mere breeders.36 Given their specialization in the chilled beef trade, these fatteners probably would have suffered the most if Britain closed its market to Argentine beef. To identify the location of fatteners, I measured the acreage of alfalfa pastureland in each province as a percentage of the national total. The linkage hypothesis implies that provinces with more cattle or alfalfa should have complied at a higher rate, on average.
(Image of alfalfa sprouts via Creative Commons from Erin Collins.)