President Alberto Fernández held a long-trailed meeting with representatives from the Mesa de Enlace this week, as he sought to lower tensions with Argentina’s powerful agricultural sector.
Both sides emerged from the meeting at the Casa Rosada seemingly content, with the 90-minute meeting serving to cool temperatures. Following a series of disagreements over export levies and quotas, agricultural leaders said that the government had vowed not to hike taxes on farming exports, nor set limits on how much grain can be shipped abroad.
"We can convey to our producers that there will be no increase in export taxes and no intervention," said Jorge Chemes, the president of Confederaciones Rurales Argentinas (CRA).
Fernández and a host of officials – including Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Minister Luis Basterra; Foreign Minister Felipe Solá; Secretary for Strategic Affairs Gustavo Béliz , and Deputy Cabinet Chief Cecilia Todesca – outlined the government’s aims and hopes for the coming months at the meeting, while agricultural leaders explained their positions and complaints.
Among those in attendance representing producers were Chemes (CRA), Carlos Iannizzotto (Coninagro), Carlos Achetoni (Argentine Agrarian Federation) and Daniel Pelegrina (Rural Society Argentina).
Afterwards, Basterra emerged to tell the press that Fernández had vowed not to raise levies and that the president had proposed “an agreement be reached … so that each one participates in the central objective – that tables in Argentina have access to food.”
The minister also said that the government would sit down with other stakeholders in the food chain to “discuss cost structures for certain products that make up the family [food] basket." He implied it was essential that prices stay low, if the agreement was to be respected.
"It is not a question of finding villains but to see what commitment each sector can make, without losing profitability, but understanding that there are certain products that have to reach the table of Argentines," he added.
Speaking for producers, Iannizzotto said that the president had made an important commitment that there would be no “increase in quotas or intervention in the markets.”
For his part, Daniel Pelegrina, president of the Rural Society Argentina, said that “the president reiterated that Argentina must leave the hand of the field.”