October 2, 2008 


Argentina's grain and beef exports to be halted by farm strikes



Argentine farmers said that they will suspend grain exports and limit beef exports temporarily to protest scant progress in talks with the government on how to help small and medium-scale producers who are suffering financially.


However, leaders from Argentina's four main farm organisations promised not to blockade roads as they did earlier this year during months of protests against the government's now-repealed export-tax hike.


The protests and blockades led to sporadic food shortages and hurt exports.


Starting Friday, farmers will wage a six-day strike to protest what they say is the government's lack of response to demands including larger subsidies for medium- and small-scale producers, more money for producers living far away from the country's ports and economic relief for thousands of farmers in northern Argentine affected by what they say is the worst drought in 100 years.


Additional problems include the government's beef and wheat export restrictions and price regulations, as well as high oil prices and falling commodity prices worldwide, said Eduardo Buzzi, leader of the Argentine Agrarian Federation and the head of Argentina's Rural Society, Hugo Biolcati.


In a separate televised news conference, Agriculture Secretary Carlos Cheppi called on farmers to call off the strike and said ongoing negotiations had provided concrete solutions which had helped the country a little given the precarious international context.

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