Morning Chronicle - Haulage strike paralyzes Argentina's farming exports

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Haulage strike paralyzes Argentina's farming exports
Haulage strike paralyzes Argentina's farming exports / Photo: Marcelo Manera - AFP

Haulage strike paralyzes Argentina's farming exports

A four-day-old strike by Argentine grain transporters, demanding higher freight rates in the face of rising diesel prices due to war in Ukraine, has paralyzed farming exports, industry sources said Thursday.

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Thousands of trucks that haul grain and its derivatives have parked along the side of the road in the South American country, which is the world's largest exporter of soybean flour and oil, and one of the main suppliers of wheat, soybean and corn.

"The entire agricultural export complex is paralyzed. The Argentine economy cannot afford this luxury," said Gustavo Idigoras, president of the Ciara-CEG oil and grain exporters chamber, in a statement.

Haulage companies are unhappy with the amount they are being paid to transport grain since their fuel costs have shot up in recent months due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Agricultural businesses are denying the real price of diesel that haulage companies are paying," said the Argentine Haulage Federation FETRA.

"With this cost, we have to stop because we cannot work anymore," said Ariel Juarez, a FETRA representative parked along a road near the city of Victoria, 300 kilometers (180 miles) north of Buenos Aires.

The official price of diesel in gas stations is 110 pesos ($0.93) per liter, but FETRA says truckers are being charged 191 pesos ($1.60) due to shortages.

The strike comes during full harvest time in Argentina's farming industry.

"The strike is causing losses of about $100 million a day. About 200 tons (of produce) have been left unloaded at port terminals. We have 50 boats waiting," said Idigoras.

Whereas there are normally 3,000 to 4,000 trucks a day arriving at Argentina's ports, currently there are only around a dozen, he said.

Idigoras also said there was not enough diesel for tractors to harvest the grain in fields.

Argentina's grain industry was worth $35 billion in 2021.