Argentine farmers return to sabre-rattling

September 25, 2008

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It didn’t take long for Argentine farmers to lose their contented glow after defeating the government over a tax hike on soy exports earlier this year.

The calm that descended on the Pampas plains in the aftermath of the four-month farming conflict was predictably short-lived, and the disgruntled farmers are rattling their sabers again. While they haven’t said what they plan to do, the farm leaders have promised to announce their next move in the coming days.

Talks with the agriculture secretary have not eased their concerns over the state of the ranching industry, the dairy sector and the dreaded export taxes. Many farmers are worse off than with the higher rate, because they lost the rebates and subsidies that the government agreed to during the conflict.

This, coupled with the worst drought for decades and weaker grains prices due to the global financial turmoil mean the bad mood may be near breaking point in the countryside. Will they go on strike again? It’s hard to imagine. President Cristina Fernandez has successfully driven the farmers off the front pages and public sympathy does not look ready to rally behind them.

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