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Farmers block roads, call week-long strike over soy taxes

Latest update : 2009-03-21

Argentine farmers blocked roads on Friday and declared a seven-day strike - commencing Saturday - against the government over its refusal to lower export taxes on soybeans.

REUTERS - Argentine farmers blocked roads and called a seven-day strike on Friday, reigniting a bitter, year-long standoff with the government over soy export taxes.

 

Protesters stopped traffic along several major highways in the fertile Pampas region, further dimming hopes for any quick resolution to the conflict as the country prepares for congressional elections expected to take place in June.

 

The dispute between Argentine farmers and the government has lifted global soy prices and local livestock prices. The peso and Argentine bonds have slid.

 

Farmers said they were angered when ruling party lawmakers refused on Thursday to vote on an opposition bill to cut the taxes. Farmers were also irked when President Cristina Fernandez announced that revenue from the soy levies would be shared with provincial governments.

 

"A great opportunity was lost yesterday," said Mario Llambias, president of the Argentine Rural Confederations, one of the country's four main farming groups.

 

He said farmers would halt sales of grains, oilseeds and cattle for seven days starting on Saturday, but added they wanted to keep talking with the center-left administration of Fernandez.

 

Argentina is an important global source of corn, wheat, beef and soybeans, but the farming conflict is leading major soy buyers like China to look to the United States and Brazil for supplies, industry analysts say.

Date created : 2009-03-20