Never-ending clash: farm now extends strike till Monday

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This strike extension will only affect grains. Farmers don't want to be blamed for beef shortage. Cattle will be brought again into Liniers Meat Market.

Between Thursday and Friday, signatures will be collected to abolish sliding-scale export tariffs.

Government claims to be getting ready to battle with farm the entire year.

Farming entities decided on Monday in the city of Rosario, after meeting for four hours, to extend farm strike till next Monday. It was quite foreseeable. The only sign of relief is that cattle marketing will be allowed today so as not to generate shortage. If they failed to do so, supermarkets were not going to have supplies tomorrow. In Armstrong, a central farming hub, a crowd of farmers backed the protest, with more heated speeches and closing shops. Meanwhile, more signatures are collected asking lift of sliding-scale export tariffs. This conflict has already extended 83 days, which, due to government lack of skill, is costing more than what's collected with export tariff rise. As time goes by, there are less sales in shops and industries. Argentine vice-president Julio Cobos (who acted as president on Monday since Cristina de Kirchner was in Rome) called entities to resume talks. This is the repetition of a chapter already seen in this clash. On Thursday, farm leaders Mario Llambias (Rural Confederations) and Eduardo Buzzi (Agrarian Federation) have to appear in court to testify. This will further motorize protests. In the meantime, government is getting ready for a highly feasible scene: conflict extending for a few more weeks. Will economy withstand so? We may not see so in May tax collection, but certainly in forthcoming months'. May's economic activity will surely mirror it (despite INDEC cosmetics). Deplorable.

Argentine farmers on Monday extended their strike over a controversial export tax on grains for another week, deepening a rift with the government of President Cristina Fernandez amid nationwide protests.

Thousands of farmers demonstrated in cities through Argentina's farm zone on Monday, loudly decrying a government proposal made last week to ease but not remove export taxes linked to global prices on products like soybeans.

"We've decided to continue the non-sale of grains destined for export until 0:00 hours on Monday June 9th," said Luciano Miguens, president of Argentine Rural Society.

The protests in the world's No. 2 corn exporter, third-biggest soy supplier and No. 4 provider of wheat and beef have sparked and flared sporadically since the tax came in on March 11, and have helped drive up global prices for oils and grains exported by Argentina.

Miguens said that out of concern for citizens, farmers would lift restrictions on livestock as of Tuesday morning.

Argentine farm strike has become a crisis for President Fernandez, pushing up prices for crucial grains after farmers pledged last Wednesday to hold back shipments to ports.

A study released on Monday showed the public's confidence in government fell considerably in May from April, hurt in great part by the farm crisis.

"People out here in the country are very indignant," one protester told national television.

"People are very firm about the strike continuing," said Eduardo Buzzi, President of the Argentine Agrarian Federation during a rally earlier in the day in Armstrong, a central farming hub.

Farmers are demanding changes to a sliding-scale export tax system that raised levies on soy and sunseed products.

Argentina's sliding-scale system links export taxes on grains, oilseeds and byproducts to international prices, raising levies on soybeans to about 40 percent at current prices from the previous fixed rate of 35 percent.

Government last Thursday announced modifications to the taxes. But farm leaders, who want the sliding-scale tax repealed, said the measures did not go far enough.

Corrals at Liniers, Argentina's top livestock market, were empty on Monday, and activities remained frozen for the day at Rosario, the nation's main grains port.

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