Argentine cattle farmers weren't happy over the plans by the government to extend limits on beef exports. This Latin American nation is the leading global exporter of beef, wheat, corn, soy oil, and soy meal. Agricultural exports are vital for the whole economy, and beef exports were 897,500 tons in 2020, contributing $2.71 billion in earnings.
In May 2021, the government decided to limit exports to support local supplies amid rising food prices. In April, beef prices had increased by 65% from the same period last year. The extension lasted till October 31st and required exporters to cut usual beef exports by half, raising taxes on farmers.
Farmers React to the Ban
When the government announced the extension, the four leading farm associations promised to take collective action against it. Simultaneously, they were not clear on the scope or schedule of the government's plan.
The clashes over the agricultural sector between government and farmers have seen opposition parties making gains in recent elections. With more elections due in November, the government has begun to change its stance.
The Peronist party has had a rocky relationship with farmers in the past. But when President Alberto Fernández came into power in 2019, he promised to improve the tense situation.
Alternative Solution Found in China
At the end of September, the leaders from the four largest farming groups, national government officials, and provincial governors met with Argentina's agriculture, cattle, and fishing minister Julian Dominguez and got a concession, allowing farmers to export beef to the Chinese market almost immediately.
Argentina exports almost 75% of its beef to China, which primarily buys cuts that aren't popular in the Latin American country. Therefore, local supplies will hardly be affected, and exporters can earn much-needed foreign currency. Minister Dominguez said that the export control will be under review every 60 days and expects normalization in 2022.
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