Argentine farmers end sales strike as corn export cap pulled

Buenos Aires | Reuters — Argentine farmers called off a three-day-old sales strike on Wednesday, hours before it had been scheduled to end, after the government agreed to free corn export from a recently decreed limit of 30,000 tonnes a day.

The export cap that had been imposed at the start of the week was criticized by growers who said it would weigh on production. Argentina is the world’s No. 3 corn exporter and its top international supplier of soymeal livestock feed.

The 30,000-tonne cap on daily corn exports followed a short-lived decision by the government made at the end of December to suspend all corn exports in January and February. The agriculture ministry said the export limits were aimed at ensuring ample domestic food supplies and affordable prices.

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But Argentina’s three main growers’ organizations — known by their Spanish initials CRA, FAA and SRA — objected, saying there was no corn shortage in Argentina and that limiting exports would increase uncertainty.

“It has clearly been shown that the limit on corn exports was a mistake,” Daniel Pelegrina, president of SRA said at a news conference, adding that “our objective has been achieved.”

The short-lived sales strike by farmers had no effect on Argentine exports, according to the CIARA-CEC chamber of oilseed crushers and agricultural export companies.

As part of a deal negotiated with farm groups on Tuesday, the agriculture ministry lifted the daily export limit and formed a commission to monitor domestic corn prices.

The three-day sales strike had caused concern in a country desperate for export dollars as it contends with a long recession and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Maximilian Heath is a Reuters correspondent in Buenos Aires; writing by Hugh Bronstein.

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