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Argentine wheat farmers warn crop could fall below domestic demand

Tuesday, April 7th 2009 - 07:20 UTC
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Argentina farmland dedicated to wheat is forecasted to fall to a minimum, with a crop barely sufficient for the domestic market and no surplus to export to its main market Brazil, according to Santiago Cameron president of the country’s Wheat farmers association.

“The government has it all wrong with its policy to control domestic wheat production to contain the price of bread”, pointed out Cameron.

“When all the world was asking for wheat the government lowered export quotas which, together with export levies and climate adversities, plus ridiculous farm policies, have led the country to a situation where we could not have enough wheat for domestic consumption”, underlined Cameron.

The wheat farmers association president said that “we have been warning the government for the last few months, but to no avail; we’ve arrived at a point where we can’t further contract the wheat area, otherwise we won’t have enough for consumption. Forget about exporting”.

Cameron said “this is all extremely ridiculous and begun in May 2006 when the government decided to intervene in the market. It was a gross decision from the government to control the price of bread, which currently costs five pesos a kilo when wheat costs 50 cents per kilo”.

Looking ahead Cameron said Argentine wheat farmers fear that with the current situation “Brazil could increase its production and we could loose them as clients. They are expanding their wheat area and are negotiating long term agreements with Russia and China to exchange products for wheat”.

“We need clear and reliable rules of the game and export licences if farmers are to be encouraged to till the land and plant wheat this winter, so we can recover crop volumes, otherwise I much fear even domestic supply could be endangered”, underscored Cameron.

Argentina normally harvests 24 to 16 million tons of wheat, six of which for domestic consumption. This year the crop could fall to less than 8 million tons.

Categories: Agriculture, Economy, Argentina.

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