March 10, 2022
Spain lobbies European Commission to buy Argentinian corn
Luis Planas, Spain's Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister is pushing the European Commission to waive import controls, in particular from Argentina, on corn and livestock feed due to supply concerns caused by Russia's invasion into Ukraine, Reuters reported.
He said current plans such as permitting farmers to use fallow land would not replace imports from third countries, but imports of maize need to be made in the next 60 days.
Ukraine is a key corn supplier for cattle feed to the Benelux countries, Iberia, the Middle East, and North Africa. These importers have turned to Romania, Bulgaria and France for supplies and are looking further for more stocks.
Industry groups in Spain have called on the government to sidestep European Commission rules and take action or risk losing out to other corn purchasers, especially as the country's corn stock is set to run out within weeks.
Jorge de Saja, managing director of the leading feed industry association, said Spain has four weeks of corn in stock and six weeks of crude sunflower oil used as livestock feed.
De Saja said a decision needs to be made or herds, especially chickens, need to be slaughtered.
A spokesman from Spain's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said the European Commission must agree to these exceptions in relation to the importation of products from third countries.
Corn exporters in Argentina are in talks with Spain's government and its industry on possible corn sales.
Gustavo Idigoras, head of the Argentina's CIARA-CEC grains export and crushing chamber, said they can supply 2021/22 corn to meet any shortfall in Spain.
Idigoras said other potential buyers include Lebanon, Egypt, and Azerbaijan.
The majority of Argentinian corn is genetically modified and contains pesticide residues restricted by Europe. Argentina is the second biggest corn exporter in the world.