The combination of policies from the Argentine presidential Kirchner couple and scarce rainfall have had devastating consequences for agriculture and livestock breeding, claimed Hugo Luis Biolcati president of the Argentine Rural Society, SRA, the country’s strongest farmers’ lobby.
“Argentina’s cattle herd has lost ten million head which means beef exports in 2010 will be half of those last year”, and all this is happening in a context “of closure of abattoirs, loss of jobs and higher prices for consumers”, said Biolcati during the opening of an agriculture show in the province of Buenos Aires.
“The reconstruction of these painful results will take years, but to begin with the process we need to have a clear horizon: opening of exports and an end to all interventions in domestic markets”, underlined the farmers’ top lobbyist.
Biolcati also complained that even when the Cristina Kirchner government has announced some tax alleviation measures and soft credits for farmers suffering the consequences of a prolonged drought, “officials have been unable to implement access to these meagre palliatives contemplated in the resolution”.
He added that “there doesn’t seem to be political will to make things function: these farmers have been through extraordinary circumstances and need extraordinary solutions”.
Biolcati claimed that there’s lack of sufficient accessible credit from government banks. “Few farmers have the sufficient collateral conditions to take loans for the retention of heifers and cows, and with no financing the production situation becomes very difficult”.
Another of the complaints refers to the lack of security in rural areas. “In different places many farmers have been victims of violent acts because they decided to contract non unionized trucks for the delivery of grains and oil seeds”.
Biolcati said that “there are innumerable reports in different police stations” of attacks on silos and storage of grains for having contracted trucks from other regions for transporting cereals and cattle.
“Insecurity is also the result of an evident deterioration of institutions, of ignoring the rule of law and simple rules of urbanity and good neighbourhood” he underlined.
Finally Biolcati reiterated the SRA support for a bill in the Argentine Lower House Agriculture Commission that would eliminate export taxes on grains, oilseeds and regional economies.
The bill proposes reducing export taxes on corn and beef (currently over 20%) to 10% and in the process of two years to its full elimination. For soybeans the proposal is a five-point annual reduction reaching 10% by 2015.
The Kirchner couple and farmers have been clashing since the government imposed export taxes of up to 35% to oilseeds, grains, beef and dairy products.