September 25, 2008


Argentina farm strike threats louder after fruitless meeting

Argentina's farm group leaders left a meeting with the Agricultural Secretary empty-handed on Tuesday (September 23, 2008) and are cranking up rhetoric and threats of a new strike.


"Time is running out ... and the situation is getting worse every day," Argentine Agrarian Federation president Eduardo Buzzi told local farm daily El Enfiteuta.


Farmers complain that export limits on grains, beef and milk are strangling the sector already suffering from the effects of a serious drought.


Alfredo de Angeli, the popular face of the farm protesters, told supporters, "Let's be firm, because this government is stubborn, poorly advised and those people don't know the damage that they're doing to the country."


The sharper rhetoric follows a period of relative calm following the farmers' July victory in a war over the government's sliding-scale soy export tax.


Farmers launched a series of crippling strikes following a March increase in the export taxes.


In mid-July, Vice President Julio Cobos unexpectedly cast his deciding vote in the Senate against his own government on the tax. With the bill defeated, soy export duties were rolled back to the fixed 35 percent rate set last November.


However, the 35 percent export tax on soy is still too high and the government's intervention is leading to decreased production, de Angeli said in a recent interview.

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