Argentina `Sacrifices' Cows Over Price Caps

ARGENTINA - Argentine farmers plan to "sacrifice" some dairy cows tomorrow to protest government price controls on milk in a challenge to newly elected President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
calendar icon 13 December 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

"We will sacrifice our oldest cows tomorrow as a form of protest"
Guillermo Draletti, president of the General Union of Dairy Farmers.

An unspecified number of Holstein milk cows will be shipped to Argentina's biggest livestock market, Guillermo Draletti, president of the General Union of Dairy Farmers said today. Farmers sent more than 1,000 cows to slaughterhouses last week, he said. Economy Minister Martin Lousteau announced a price cap on untreated milk of 78 centavos (25 cents) a liter on Dec. 4.

"We will sacrifice our oldest cows tomorrow as a form of protest," Draletti said in an interview. "Small and medium- sized farmers can't survive this new measure."

Fernandez de Kirchner, who replaced her husband Nestor Kirchner as president on Dec. 10, seeks to maintain a policy of capping food prices to protect Argentine consumers from rising global commodity prices. Cattle ranchers and wheat farmers say the measures force them to plow up land or sell their herds to grow soybeans, which are freer of government controls.

Farmers are blockading factories owned by dairy companies such as SanCor SA, which may force them to stop supplying milk in a few hours, the Milk Industry Center said today in an e-mailed statement. The plants are running out storage space and might have to stop receiving milk from farmers, the center said.

Agriculture Secretary Javier de Urquiza yesterday urged farmers to open talks with the government.

New Proposal

Argentina's Rural Society, the biggest farm group, is preparing to deliver a new proposal to the government to change the current price controls, the group said today in a statement.

Dairy farmers say the price cap may lead to milk shortages because production costs are 75 to 80 centavos a liter, newspaper Clarin reported Nov. 30. Argentina is the world's third-largest milk-powder exporter, behind New Zealand and the European Union, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Source: Bloomberg

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