Monday, May 26, 2008

Argentine Farmers Plan New Roadblocks If Export-Tax Talks Fail

May 26 (Bloomberg) -- Argentina's government needs to reach an accord with farmers over agricultural export taxes today to avoid a resumption of protests that brought the country's grains and oilseeds shipments to a standstill.

The leaders of the country's four biggest farm associations told 300,000 supporters at a rally yesterday that they are prepared to resume blocking shipments of farm produce if President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner refuses to modify the taxes, which were introduced on March 11.

``An event of this size backs our claims,'' Hugo Biolcati, vice president of the country's Rural Society, said in an interview in Rosario, a port town 300 kilometers (188 miles) north of Buenos Aires, where the rally took place. ``It is a protest that they can't ignore. This has to change the tone of the discussions.''

Farm leaders said they were prepared to go ahead with their third protest against the sliding-scale levy on exports of soybeans and sunflower seed. During the first protest, which took place in March, farmers' roadblocks caused shortages of beef, milk and vegetables at supermarkets and increases in food prices. As a result, support for Fernandez, who took office on Dec. 10, plunged in opinion polls.

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