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Argentine farmers want fast dialogue, 'solutions' from new ags minister

09/20/2021 | 01:22pm EDT

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Argentina's farm sector, the country's main exporter, is pushing to speed up dialogue with the new farming minister to resolve simmering tensions between the industry and the government including around contentious limits on beef exports.

Center-left President Alberto Fernandez reshuffled his Cabinet on Friday evening after a bruising primary election loss sparked rifts within his administration, including naming a new agriculture minister, Julian Dominguez.

Dominguez is an ally of militant Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and was farming minister from 2009 to 2011 during her presidency, when he inherited policies including limits on corn and wheat exports.

Argentina is the world's top exporter of processed soymeal and oil, the second-largest global exporter of corn and a major producer of wheat, barley and beef. The sector is the main source of much-needed foreign currency for the government.

"What we say to Dominguez is: 'Minister, there are things we need to solve now,'" said Nicolas Pino, president of the major Argentine Rural Society (SRA), adding the new minister was "very dialogue-oriented" and seen as a problem-solver.

"Time is getting short, we cannot continue waiting for dialogue."

The new officials, including a farming minister and new chief of staff, will be sworn in on Monday afternoon.

Elbio Laucirica, head of the Coninagro agricultural association, added Dominguez understood the reality of the sector and pointed to his deep political experience.

The farm leaders said they would push for the new minister to walk back the current quota for beef exports - 50% of the usual volume - applied by the government earlier this year in a bid to contain a sharp rise in domestic prices.

Both Pino and Laucirica said the sector continues to evaluate protests over the quotas.

"Given the change of authorities, we must give him some time to see how things unfold, but that doesn't mean we take this sort of action off the table," said Coninagro's Laucirica.

(Reporting by Maximilian Heath in Buenos Aires Editing by Adam Jourdan and Matthew Lewis)

ę Reuters 2021
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