Argentine ag workers strike over rural tax hikes

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Argentine ag workers strike over rural tax hikes

Agricultural workers in the Argentine province of Buenos Aires launched a strike yesterday that is expected to last until Jun. 10, protesting against rural tax reform.

The reform was proposed by Buenos Aires governor Daniel Scioli and was approved on Thursday, increasing rural property tax rates, stamp duty and gross income tax.

Argentine Agricultural Federation (FAA) president Eduardo Buzzi said the "active strike" would involve picketing in different parts of the province.

The Buenos Aires Agricultural Bureau decreed the trade of grains and livestock would cease, but perishable products would be excluded from the blockade.

Confederation of Rural Associations from Buenos Aires and La Pampa (CARBAP) president Alberto Frola said the province's farming area has "a lot of problems that have not been solved".

"The situation has worsened greatly over recent months," he said.

"Profitability has liquefied and there are many areas that can no longer produce because costs have increased in dollars and freight rates have risen enormously."

Argentine Rural Society (SRA) president Hugo Luis Biolcati added "the party is over. There is no money to send to the provinces".

"We have become the wedding duck [a laughing stock]. It is brutal and the only response is the protest," he said.

He said the tax revaluation would paralyze the economy and recommended president Fernandez de Kirchner does not "irritate the sector".

Strikes elsewhere

The Entre Ríos Agricultural Federation has also declared a strike over the same period. The entity's president Alfredo de Angeli, said the strike was not in "adhesion" with the Buenos Aires strikes, although the province had similar problems.

The strikes in Entre Ríos involve road blocks and like the Buenos Aires protests will allow the trade of perishable products like fresh produce and milk to continue.

Various groups will meet on Tuesday to decide whether the strike goes nationwide.

Photo: Clarin

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