In Argentina, farm groups call for trade halt to protest government

FILE PHOTO: An agricultural worker checks a seeder before sowing wheat on farmland in Comodoro Py, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina June 21, 2022. Picture taken June 21, 2022. REUTERS/Matias Baglietto

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's major farm groups called for a trade strike in two weeks in a bid to pressure the government to do more as frustration over crippling shortages of diesel and fertilizers weighs on the country's key agricultural sector.

The groups announced on Wednesday that the nationwide halt to farm exports will begin on July 13 and last 24 hours, according to sector officials and a statement from the Mesa de Enlace which includes the country's four main rural associations.

Truck driver protests across the South American country have snarled traffic as anger mounts over diesel shortages and creeping prices for the motor fuel used by the farm sector just as the crucial corn crop makes it way to major ports.

Argentina is the world's second biggest corn exporter, the No. 1 exporter of processed soybean oil and meal, as well as a major wheat and beef supplier.

"Access to diesel and fertilizers is urgent to avoid a complete paralysis," according a statement, which also called for fewer "damaging" state interventions, macroeconomic stability plus reduced government spending.

The government of leftist President Alberto Fernandez has recently taken some steps to boost domestic diesel supplies.

Earlier this month, the energy ministry announced higher required biodiesel content in diesel blends in a bid to address the shortage of the motor fuel.

Nicolas Pino, head of Argentina's Rural Society, stressed the July 13 strike will not affect ordinary motorists, unlike recent truck driver protests that have caused major highway disruptions.

"This is a measure designed to make citizens more aware of the problems affecting Argentina's most important productive sector," said Pino.

(Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Chris Reese)

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