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Argentine ranchers slam gov't limit on beef exports, say will hit production

06/23/2021 | 03:53pm EDT

BUENOS AIRES, June 23 (Reuters) - Argentina's new policy of limiting beef exports for the rest of this year will hurt production, ranchers said in a statement on Wednesday that signaled rising tensions between the agricultural sector and the center-left administration.

The export curbs, announced on Tuesday and which include a cap on monthly beef exports at half last year's average level until August, are aimed at controlling high domestic food inflation.

But farmers says that limiting or taxing exports is not an effective way of fighting higher prices at local supermarkets.

"The ideological discourse used to argue in favor of the measure seeking to curb meat prices, is loaded with lies," the Rural Societies of Tucuman and Salta provinces said in a joint statement.

"The government insists on impeding production," they said.

The South American grains powerhouse is the world's fifth-largest beef exporter and a key supplier to China. A near full ban on beef exports in May had stoked tensions with the farm sector and led to protests and trading halts.

"The package of announcements by the government obliges us to remain united and attentive. We cannot allow this constant domination of the farm and livestock sector," they said. The major umbrella CRA farm body said it backed the statement.

Beef prices in Argentina, known for its family barbecues and succulent steaks, are a touchy subject, especially with midterm legislative elections coming up in November.

In the 12 months through April, meat prices in Argentina soared 60% to 70%, according to official data. In the first four months of 2021, 28.8% of the 965,286 tonnes of beef produced in Argentina were exported, of which 76.6% went to China.

The government's medium-term objective is to increase meat production, from the current 3.2 million tonnes to 5 million tonnes per year, the production ministry said on Tuesday. It did not provide details of its plan for improving output. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

© Reuters 2021
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