Before the reform period (1986), the state legislated that cattle were to be used only for draught purposes. The slaughter of healthy cattle was banned, and only unproductive animals were granted by local authorities for slaughter for consumption. Policy reforms in the late 1980s, notably the shift from collective management systems towards privatisation expressed in Resolution N10, provided the autonomy of farm households to own and sell cattle. Smallholders started raising their own cattle mainly for draught purposes and manure production.
Unlike other sectors, there has been no comprehensive government policy in place for the livestock sector, which received little budgetary support (Tran, 2014). Previously, any cattle policy mostly focused on production targets such as Sindhilisation Breeding Program in 1995, low-interest credit schemes in ‘Hunger Alleviation and Poverty Reduction’ Program in 2002.
Until recently driven by diseases outbreak, the government has issued regulatory interventions concerning animal health and environment that focused on building and improvement of slaughterhouses, processing plants and commercial operations (Decision 394/DQ-TTg) and livestock feed management (Decree No 8/2010/ND-CP), which has encouraged farmers to engage in intensive fattening operations. There is a need for policies to assist smallholder farmers to transition from extensive grazing systems to more intensive fattening systems which can produce beef more efficiently, and meet the consumer demand for higher quality beef in higher value markets.
The Vietnamese government has used tariffs to regulate livestock imports. Since joining the WTO in 2007 and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement in 2010, Vietnam has committed to reduce trade barriers. Import tariffs were reduced from 22% in 2006 to 5% in 2010 for live cattle and 7% for fresh and frozen beef from Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN countries. The tariffs on cattle, beef and beef offal will soon be abolished under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.