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Argentine farmers protest commodities higher export taxes

Monday, January 22nd 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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Economy minister Miceli said marches are only politics Economy minister Miceli said marches are only politics

Several Argentine farmers associations are planning a full day of protest for next Tuesday in four main cities to express their dissatisfaction and rejection with the current agriculture policy of President Nestor Kirchner's administration.

Marches are programmed in Bahia Blanca, province of Buenos Aires; Villa Constitucion, Santa Fé; Villa Elisa, Entre Rios and Oncativo, Cordoba. Portests will consist mainly of marches by farmers and distribution of literature explaining the current situation of the camp industry, but no routes blockades or pickets have been planned. Farmers are furious with recent decisions from the Kirchner administration to increase export taxes on agriculture commodities to help finance food subsidies. In an unusual reaction to pressure from a high government official to increase the inflow of cattle and thus help bring down the price of beef, Mario Llambias, president of the Argentine Rural Confederations said that "Tuesday's day of protest is directly linked to the provocations from certain government officials". The official is Guillermo Moreno, Home Trade Secretary and the man personally chosen by President Kirchner to keep food basket prices in line and immune from international markets, in a very special year since next October presidential elections are scheduled in Argentina. Although not all rural associations have joined, farmers are acting more openly against government arm twisting and Mr. Moreno bullying tactics. "This is a senseless, intimidatory and confrontational attitude", said the Confederation of Rural Associations from La Pampa and Buenos Aires in a release. "This only makes people more furious and worsens the whole situation", said Llambias. In spite of official intimidation, "farmers are going to sell their cattle at the moment and price they feel is in their best interests. By law maximum prices are banned and that is why the tentative price lists which are being circulated by Moreno have no official identification or seal", added Llambías. Last week the Kirchner administration announced maximum reference prices for wheat, corn, soy and sunflower and increased export taxes, to help finance a subsidies fund. The fund is expected to have 500 million US dollars, 400 million to be provided y an increase in commodities exports taxes, mainly soybeans and the rest by the Treasury. However it's not yet clear how the reference prices for the home market will operate given the high prices and current volatility of the Chicago Stock Exchange. Last year on several occasions the Kirchner administration limited or banned exports of beef and dairy products, to push domestic prices down.

Categories: Economy, Argentina.

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