Argentine farmers conflict expands; all trading suspended for a week
Argentine farmers’ organizations under the umbrella grouping Liaison Board announced on Tuesday a national strike cancelling all trade in grains, oilseeds and livestock to protest ‘national government policies’ against the land reform and tax hike in Buenos Aires province, among other issues.
The halt in sales will begin at midnight on Tuesday and end a week later on midnight June 12th. The announcement was made by the Argentine Rural Society (SRA), Coninagro, the Agrarian Federation of Argentina (FAA) and the Argentine Rural Confederations, (CRA) which brings together large landholders to small farmers under the Liaison Board umbrella and was particularly successful in their confrontation with the Kirchner administrations over export taxes in 2008.
“Costs, particularly taxes, have increased non-stop for farmers and thus our incomes have been diminished,” FAA head Eduardo Buzzi explained in a press conference. Something is going very wrong in Argentina's farms, which is why we are sending this wake-up call”, adding We are in bad shape and getting worse”.
Ruben Ferrero from CRA said “we don’t want confrontations, we don’t want to confront the community, we want to teach and reach out to show the people what is really happening: a year ago dairy farmers were paid 1.60 Pesos a litre of milk, now that is down to 1.50”
He insisted the purpose of the strike was to give evidence of the critical situation of the camp overall, underlining that “the two ends of the food chain (farmers and consumers) are suffering the most”.
“We are overwhelmed by commercial and competition difficulties” and the refusal form the national Executive to receive the farmers “has been one of the factors triggering this strike situation”.
The difficulties identified include trading restrictions; limits to exports; destruction of markets and the lack of profitability in important sectors such as dairy farming, plus the non consulted decision by the province of Buenos Ares, Argentina’s richest, to increase soil values and thus significant hikes in land taxes, which is also extensive for the federal level. The increase in transport costs in such a vast country is also a motive of protest particularly for the north and south of Argentina.
The national strike is an extension of the ban on commercial activities for farm produce in the province of Buenos Aires, following the approval by the local parliament of the new land values and taxes.
In the first day of non-trading, recorded shipments of livestock were minimum and pickets resurfaced in several of Argentina’s main highways in farming territory.
Buenos Aires province governor Daniel Scioli told his province farmers he is prepared to review legislation approved but demands that farmers cease their protests.