A lesson not to forget
In a surprisingly forceful, and candid, speech during the official inauguration of the annual Palermo Agricultural Show, President Fernando De la Rúa vigorously promoted the zero-deficit austerity package and also admitted a cover up operation regarding foot and mouth disease.
"Once again we were our own victims. We couldn't assume reality. We shouldn't have declared ourselves free of FAM without having a proper sanitary program. We fooled ourselves. We were not serious. We still have FAM cases and that is why we must avoid cattle concentrations and shows. This is a lesson not to forget", revealed president De la Rúa during the Palermo inauguration speech which this year was limited to a spectacular horse exhibit and poultry show.
Argentine Rural Society president, Enrique Crotto also revealed other details of the FAM cover up operation.
Mr. Crotto said that last November the presidents of the four farmers associations and the Agriculture Ministers of all Argentine provinces were convened by then Agriculture Minister Antonio Berhongaray. During the meeting the Minister revealed the existence of a few FAM outbreaks "under control" and suggested that the situation be kept secret as not to harm Argentine beef exports. So it was agreed and so it was accepted. But the situation got out of control, and "now we are back again vaccinating", indicated Mr. Crotto.
"We were told the government would pay for the vaccines, we're paying and waiting; we were promised that the cattle smuggling in border areas would be fully investigated, we're waiting for the inquiry", stressed Mr. Crotto.
"We were used by officials who as we say in Camp, were given command, but can't say a bull from a cow, and that's how we ended".
Finally Mr. Crotto attacked government inefficiency recalling that public expenditure in Argentina is equivalent to five Gross Agriculture Products, but in spite of the crisis farmers once again have managed a record crop.
In his speech president De la Rúa announced the elimination of some long standing camp taxes and promised that Argentina will no longer live beyond its means, "we're not going to mortgage our future any longer".