September 29, 2008


Argentina grapples with fierce drought 



Cattlemen in the northern province of Santa Fe in Argentina are suffering the effects of crippling drought after politics hampered beef exports earlier in the year.


So far this year, fewer than 200 millimeters of rain have fallen, less than a third of the 600 millimeters that usually have fallen by this time.


Salt that has concentrated in the remaining well water is slowly poisoning cattle, according to farmers.


The country's farm sector had already been hurt this year during four months of strikes held to protest an export-tax hike ordered in March by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.


Government figures indicate that the drought is responsible for the deaths of about 15 percent of the area's 1 million head of cattle.


The drought is also hampering the planting of sunflowers, with the National Institute of Farming Technology saying the window period for sunflower planting is almost over and no rains had come.

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