Argentine Farm Associations Plan Protests Before Elections

July 30, 2015 06:30 AM

Three farm associations in Argentina, the world’s third-largest soybean exporter, will start protests after the August primaries in the run-up to October’s presidential elections.

The groups will meet with presidential candidates starting next week and hold off any protests until the Aug. 9 primaries are over to avoid affecting the electoral process, Luis Miguel Etchevehere, president of the Argentine Rural Society, said Wednesday at a press conference in Buenos Aires. Argentina’s first-round presidential elections will occur Oct. 25.

The main farm group complaints are that soybean producers are getting a dollar worth 5.90 pesos after export taxes, or about a third less than the street exchange rate, they also are seeking consensus and dialogue with the government as well as macroeconomic stability with clear rules, Etchevehere said.

In official trading Wednesday, which the Argentine central bank controls with daily interventions, the peso closed at 9.195 per dollar. The peso in the black market, where Argentines go when they can’t get approval to buy dollars at the official rate, gained 0.2 percent to 14.94 per dollar.

The farm groups will submit a letter to presidential candidates Wednesday outlining their objections to government agricultural policies including restrictions on free trade, said a person familiar, who asked not be identified because talks between the associations are private.

Intensifying Protests

The protests, to include the suspension of grain and livestock trading, are planned to intensify after the country’s Aug. 9 primaries, a second person with direct knowledge of the situation said.

One of the three groups is the Argentine Rural Confederation, the country’s largest rural non-governmental organization, which represents 109,000 farmers.

Such actions would deepen a dispute between farmers and President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government. Four months of farm strikes in 2008 led to food shortages throughout Argentina after Fernandez tried to raise export taxes on corn and soybeans to as much as 45 percent.

Argentina is also the world’s third-largest corn exporter, behind the U.S. and Brazil, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


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