Blizzard kill 800.000 sheep
An estimated 800.000 sheep have been killed by the latest and unexpected blizzards, that have covered Patagonia with a thick coat of snow, according to farmers associations from Chubut and Santa Cruz.
The Rural Society from Chubut estimates half of those losses occurred in their area and the rest in Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego.
The snowfall was particularly serious and extremely harmful since it surprised the Chubut flock during the lambing season. In Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego sheep had just been skilled and were also reaching the lambing period.
However, Pablo Borrelli advisor from the Argentine Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock said that definitive numbers won't be known until activity returns to normal and snow begins to melt.
But farmers are now worried that a quick change in weather could lead to floods given the volume of snowfall accumulated. End of cheap fuel for Patagonia?
End of cheap fuel for Patagonia?
Patagonian trade and farmers associations have sent letters to President Fernando De la Rúa and Economy Minister José Luis Machinea warning about the devastating effects for the region of the proposed extension of fuel taxes to all Argentina, as contemplated in the national 2001 budget sent last week to consideration of Congress. A liter of gasoline in Patagonia costs an average 0,68 US dollars compared to the current 1,10 US dollars in the rest of Argentina. "What we pay for is gasoline, not for the fiscal component, so it's very unfair to say that fuel in Patagonia is subsidized", remarked Aníbal Parolín, president of Comodoro Rivadavia's Rural Society. "Distance between towns and villages in Patagonia averages 400 kilometers, it's madness to make us pay the full price", said Jorge Maroli a member of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce. In Santa Cruz, Governor Néstor Kichner said that if fuel prices are increased, "I'm prepared to take over, with the people, the oil wells; Patagonian residents will fight for their rights". "We need the fuel subsidies not for people in fancy cars, but to help bring our costs down, freights at reasonable prices, so the area can compete with the rest of the country in similar conditions", unde