Wheat and grain farmers in Argentina have called for a seven-day strike to protest the government’s export quotas which they say prevents them for taking advantage of rising global food prices and keeps domestic prices artificially low.
Argentine farmers enacted a similar strike three years ago which helped to drive up food prices around the world to record highs.
However, the current strike is largely symbolic since the harvest has not yet commenced. Immediate exports of wheat, soy, and other grains are expected to be negatively impacted. Still, with fears of rising food prices around the world, any perception of a supply disruption could make things worse.
Argentine farmers and the government of President Cristina Fernandez have long battled over agricultural policies. The government contends that export quotas clamp down on inflation and sustains domestic grain supplies. Farmers and their unions contend that export limits only benefits foreign commodity traders.
We must improve and normalize grains trade in Argentina, especially for wheat and corn, said Eduardo Buzzi of the Argentine Agrarian Federation, one group that is protesting. Farmers lose fortunes, and consumers pay more for their daily bread.
Buzzi also said that protests will likely continue over the next few weeks.
Julian Dominguez, the country’s agricultural minister, Julian Dominguez, criticized the strike, but conceded that grain farmers are not earning what they should be earning for their products.
As for President Fernandez, she is expected to run for re-election in nine months and an ongoing strike in the key agricultural sector would be a thorn on her side.