Argentina's government attempts to woo farmers after poll mauling

29 Sep 2021 | Liliana Minton

Argentina’s government has embarked on a campaign to win back support from the agriculture sector after posting disastrous results in primary elections, the first round of the country’s delayed election process.

The government is advocating a trio of measures targetting farmers ahead of crunch elections for the main legislature to be held in November, when half the seats of the country’s lower chamber and a third of all senate seats will be up for grabs. 

The measures were announced late Tuesday and include the restoration of beef exports to China, a proposal to put an agro-industrial bill in front of Congress, and the elimination of credit restrictions on farmers that hold crop stocks. 

The country’s main elections are due on November 14, when members of Congress will be chosen, and the change in the government’s tone follows the gains made by Argentina's opposition political party made in the primary elections earlier this month.

The government announcement that it would re-open beef exports to China from October 4 was the first concrete measure taken by the new Agriculture Minister, Julian Dominguez, as it tries to regain the confidence of the farming sector.

The ban had been imposed earlier in the year amid surging domestic prices that the government attempted to curb by closing off the export route.

The beef export announcement came late on Tuesday following a meeting between the Dominguez and the agricultural sector's four rural lobby groups, known as the “Mesa de Enlace” (Liaison Table).

“The country’s president tasked me to regain the dialogue [with the sector] as a key tool for progress and caring for the food security of the Argentine people,” Dominguez said in a tweet earlier.  

A second initiative is the announcement that a modified agro-industrial bill will be proposed to the country’s Congress on September 30, providing the legislative framework to increase exports by $40 billion and generate 700,000 additional jobs in the next decade.

Finally, the government also announced that it will eliminate the current restriction from the Central Bank that prevents producers holding more than 5% of soybeans and wheat in stock from access to credit at subsidised lending rates.

The measure is expected to benefit 32,500 farmers, according to local news reports.

“The government is doing everything to get the votes…they are giving away refrigerators and bicycles as pre-election gifts,” a local trade source said to Agricensus.