Import Restrictions on Soy will Affect Farmers

SPAIN - The Spanish government is discussing whether or not it should impose import restrictions on Argentinean products, in retaliation to an announcement by the Argentinean government that it will nationalise oil company YPF.
calendar icon 19 April 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

Buenos Aires has put forward a bill that would allow it to take a controlling stake in YPF, a company owned by the Spanish energy giant Repsol.

Soybeans and ethanol are two of the products that the Spanish government is looking at placing import restrictions on.

Spain imports between three to four million tonnes of soy a year, of which 85 per cent comes from Argentina.

The agricultural organisation ASAJA of Castile and Leon has said that it will support the Government if they pursue the right to impose severe restrictions on imports of food products from Argentina. However the group warned that Spain depends heavily upon soybeans and other protein products for animal feed, and therefore may have to seek other markets.

With the Spanish livestock sector currently suffering from poor profitability, high producers costs and drought, any action that pushes up the costs of production for producers should be prevented, ASAJA said.

The Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers (UPA) has said prohibiting exports of Argentinean soybeans could have serious negative effects on the livestock industry.

UPA has said that it will be difficult to find alternative sources of soy.

The organisation has urged the European Union and its Member States to consider the "irresponsible attitude" of Argentina in this case and rethink their positions ahead of the negotiation of trade agreements with Mercosur. Farmers and ranchers are adversely affected by such agreements, which tend to prioritise the interests of other sectors against the producers of food and raw materials.

UPA warned that if imports of soy are stopped, there would be a serious shortage, which would push prices up to unbearable levels for producers. It highlighted that the drought had made producers even more dependent on feed, as grass growth was minimal.

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