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Argentina’s farmers will strike over corn export suspension from Monday

Argentine farmers will hold a 72-hour strike from 11 January to protest a government decision to temporarily suspend corn exports.

6 January 2021, at 7:22am

Reuters reports that the strike was announced by three of Argentina’s main rural associations on 5 January.

The South American grains powerhouse last week announced a two-month halt in corn exports from the world's number three supplier in a bid to control domestic food prices amid a long recession and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agricultural associations CRA, SRA and CONINAGRO said the measure was "detrimental" both to their interests and those of Argentina and demanded President Alberto Fernandez immediately review the decision.

The groups said in a statement that barring changes, they would strike from midnight on Monday, 11 January through Wednesday 13 January.

The country's CEC chamber of export companies said earlier on Tuesday that importers of Argentine corn might reduce their purchases from the country due to "uncertainty" caused by the export halt, leading to long-term damage for the industry.

Farm groups have also spoken out against the suspension, saying it will put downward pressure on production as farmers hold back investments.

The cattle and poultry industry in Argentina uses corn to fatten chickens and cows. The government hopes that by keeping more corn in the country, the cost of feeding livestock will fall, increasing domestic food supplies.

But a joint statement from Argentina's soy, corn, wheat and sunflower seed associations said such intervention in export markets would erode confidence and lead to an immediate withdrawal of investments.

"We need to show our overseas customers that they can count on us as a reliable supplier," the statement said.

In announcing the new policy, the government said it wanted to ensure the supply of grain for the production of animal protein such as pork, chicken, eggs, milk and cattle.

Buyers can still book corn from Argentina, but only for shipping after 1 March. International sales of farm products are Argentina's top source of export dollars needed to stabilise the anaemic peso currency and help fund coronavirus relief efforts.

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