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Drought Decimates Argentinean Cattle Industry

19 January 2009

ARGENTINA - Argentina's beef industry and wheat and corn production have been devastated by the country's most severe drought since 1961, which has also affected agriculture in neighboring Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil.

According to Hugh Bronstein of msnbc, the crisis is compounded by the world economic slowdown, which is cutting demand for farm products and draining state finances just as ranchers look to the government for help.

The drought has killed 300,000 head of cattle and caused at least $600 million in farm losses in Santa Fe. Authorities are trucking in water, reports msnbc, but it is not enough and producers are demanding longer-term solutions.

The drought has also renewed tensions between the central government and farmers, who are resentful after a deep conflict last year over export taxes that froze grains trade for weeks and turned into a major political crisis for center-left President Cristina Fernandez.

Last year, at the height of the dispute, farmers blocked highways around Argentina's vast farm belt for days, eventually forcing Fernandez to back down on her tax hike on soy exports.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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