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Protesting farmers call week-long strike

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-26

Argentine farmers protesting the government’s agricultural policy are set to launch a seven-day strike starting Friday that will halt meat and cereal supplies, according to industry representatives.

AFP - Argentine farmers are to halt meat and cereal supplies to shops for a week to protest government agriculture policies, industry representatives said Wednesday.
  
The stoppage will start on Friday this week and last to September 4, one of the agriculture federations' leaders, Carlos Garetto, told reporters.
  
The farmers are angry at the government's refusal to reduce taxes on grain exports -- especially soya, which is called "green gold" in Argentina because of the price it fetches on the back of booming demand from China.
  
The protest comes from "growing unhappiness" in rural areas, Garetto said.
  
Argentina is the third biggest soybean exporter in the world, after the United States and Brazil, and is also a major beef exporter.
  
Its powerful farming lobby last year led a four-month strike that defeated a plan by President Cristina Kirchner to raise grain export taxes by putting them on a sliding scale determined by market prices.
  
This time, said Mario Llambias, representing ranchers, there were no plans to block roads, though "there will be mobilizations so that we can explain what is going on."
  
The suspension of cereal and meat sales looked likely to take the same form as during the lengthy protest last year, when supplies to Argentine supermarkets and shops were halted.
  
The week-long stoppage starting Friday was unlikely to cause any shortages, however, unlike in 2008, when shoppers eventually found aisles bare and Argentina's famous beef scarce.
  
Farming groups last month started fresh talks with the government demanding that the current 35-percent tax on soya exports be cut, but no headway has been made on the issue.
  
Kirchner's financially troubled administration is relying on the soya tax to raise six billion dollars this year.
  
The farmers' problems are being compounded by a severe drought which is expected to contribute to a 50-percent cut in export revenues this year, to 16 billion dollars.
  
"The straw that broke the camel's back" was Kirchner's veto of an emergency law that would have suspended tax payments for farms in areas hit by the drought, the farmers' federation said.

Date created : 2009-08-26

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