Argentine farmers say government has gone too far

March 13, 2008

Every time it looks like relations between Argentine farmers and the governmepampas_plains.jpgnt have hit rock bottom, they get worse.
Exasperated farmers have blocked ports, parked tractors across highways and refused to send their cattle to market in protest at a string of government measures.
They even held a mass prayer rally, hoping the nation’s patron saint might help them resolve the three-year-old row.
This time they have called a two-day strike in protest at an export tax hike that targets their most lucrative crops, soybeans and sunflowers.
Officials say everyone should benefit from the grains bonanza, not just the countryside, which has historically fought with the government in Buenos Aires over the spoils of the country’s farming riches.
They say there will still be an ample profit margin even with the new tax increases.
But farmers say the government has gone too far, and will end up shooting itself in the foot by discouraging the production of the very goods that are swelling state coffers.
Argentina has recovered some of its former fame as the bread basket of the world in recent years, but the rapid rise in export duties that has accompanied soaring global prices means few farmers are celebrating in the famous Pampas plains.

“The worst thing about all this despondency, is that we’re losing a culture.” one farmer told daily La Nacion. “I honestly don’t know if there’s any future in farming for my children.”

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