Saturday, January 31, 2009

Argentine farmers face ruin as drought kills cattle, crops

CNN: …Argentina is one of the world's breadbaskets, providing commodities such as soy, wheat, corn and beef to countries around the globe. In recent years, record-high prices for these products reaped millions of dollars for Argentine farmers, but since the global economic crisis hit, demand and profits have dropped. Now the drought is making matters even worse.

…Facing pressure from farmers, Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced emergency measures this week that will exempt the worst-hit farmers from paying most taxes for one year. "This is a big boost of patriotism, and a sign of support from all Argentines," Kirchner said on January 26. "All other sectors of the economy will continue to contribute, so we can help the farmers who have been affected by this drought."

Kirchner has had a contentious relationship with farmers, who staged noisy protests and strikes last year over an increase in export taxes. Those taxes eventually were reduced, but farming leaders still contend that the government is out of touch with their needs.

They say the measures announced this week fall short, and are demanding a cohesive, long-term plan for dealing with emergencies such as the current drought. If not, they say, they may strike again. "Sure, this plan is approved now, and it helps, but we need money to feed cows, to go back to planting crops, because this drought is impacting life in every sector of society," said Eduardo Buzzi of the Argentine Agrarian Federation….

Calingasta River in the Andes Mountains, Calingasta department in the Province of San Juan Argentina, shot by EagLau, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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