Argentine farmers have taken sides decisively ahead of events leading to the presidential election in October and the primaries next weekend. At the opening of the country's major Palermo agriculture show in Buenos Aires, the head of the Argentine Rural Society Luis Etchevehere called on his fellow citizens to avoid supporting “democratically elected leaders but intoxicated with authoritarianism” and “populist adventures”.
“In a few days, democracy will be putting into the hands of all Argentines a powerful tool, a weapon loaded with future,” the rural leader said at the formal inauguration of the 129th Palermo rural show last Saturday.
“If the elected candidate participated or participates in a hegemonic political project that seeks to complete the process of sweeping away the Constitution’s institutions and peaceful co-existence between Argentines, please don’t vote for him or her,” he continued, also condemning “populist adventures.”
He continued: “if you suspect that with your vote you can bless leaders who have committed or could commit acts of corruption, please don’t vote for them”.
“Voting cannot be taken lightly, it makes us responsible for the decisions that leaders take. It sends a message about the issues that are important for us. It is in our hands to reorient our destiny. Nobody is going to do it if it isn’t us.”
Etchevehere and the government of President Cristina Fernandez with her policies of grain export duties and privileging the domestic meat market have always been about to clash. This was further augmented when the SRA which represents the large farmers of Argentina, earlier this week called the current administration the worst for the agricultural sector in 200 years.
And on Saturday's inauguration Etchevehere during his speech had close to him PRO opposition presidential candidate and mayor of Buenos Aires City, Mauricio Macri, while present in the crowd were Buenos Aires City Mayor-elect Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Patricia Bullrich, who is leading the PRO ticket for Congress in BA City. The Radical party (UCR) and Sergio Massa’s Renewal Front (FR), also from the opposition were also represented.
There was no government presence at the ceremony in Palermo, but the incumbent Victory Front (FpV) presidential contender Daniel Scioli responded with a message destined towards the small- and medium sized farmers not represented by the SRA.
”Some leaders of one rural association prioritize political issues, and allow themselves to be carried away with anger and don’t have the willpower to make progress on the pending issues” said Scioli from the province of Entre Rios.
Furthermore Scioli promised measures for farmers in regional and niche sectors that are not necessarily represented by the SRA. Although the CRA and CONINAGRO associations were present at the SRA event, the Argentine Agrarian Federation (FAA) which represents the smallest producers, was absent.
Scioli also pledged ”to explore with every sector the paths that allow us to promote more and more exports, for them to be more competitive all the time.”
Also responding for the government was Julian Dominguez, who is now running for the FpV nomination to replace Scioli as BA governor and served as President Cristina Fernández Agriculture minister after the 2008 conflict with the farming sectors.
Dominguez took a more conciliatory approach however, telling Etchevehere that “there is a national state and a province that wants there to be farmers in the fields. We want more production with more producers, whom we are willing to protect because they are our golden eggs.”
The speaker of the Lower House of Congress advocated a greater use of biotechnology to increase both production and added value for agricultural products, while also recalling that the government had focused its efforts in the last 12 years on ensuring that the cost of food for Argentines remained low.