Argentina is the world’s second biggest exporter of agricultural commodities and sales of soya and corn are critical to importers such as China, who turn to Argentina and Brazil until US harvests become available.
The farmers were protesting at about 60 points in northern and central Argentina and have staged roadblocks, occasionally forcing truckers to dump loads.
Strike fears helped push soya prices in Chicago nearly 8 per cent higher last week. Wheat, corn and meat prices also rose.
“The stand-off between Argentine farmers and their government is worsening, threatening further drawdown of an already tight US soyabean carry over,” said Richard Feltes, head of commodities research at MF Global, a brokerage in Chicago.
The US Department of Agriculture sees US soyabean inventories falling this season to a five-year low of 5m tonnes, from 15.6m in 2006-07.
Though farming is Argentina’s top export earner, the country has become increasingly unreliable in world markets. Farmers have used halting of overseas sales as the main bargaining tool since the confrontation over export tariffs began a year ago, and the government at times bans corn, wheat and beef exports to protect local supplies and prices.
Farmers see the plan to share 30 per cent of the soya tariffs as a bid to buy the support of governors.
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