Argentina farmers eye election showdown with doubt and mistrust

Business-friendly runner Patricia Bullrich dropped out
calendar icon 24 October 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Argentina's farmers, some of the world's most important producers of soy, corn, wheat and beef, have some strong views on the country's polarised presidential election finalists: untrustworthy and unreliable, reported Reuters.

The South American country's first round general vote on Sunday saw Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Massa win out ahead of radical libertarian Javier Milei, the two offering starkly different models for the embattled country ahead of a Nov. 19 run-off.

Business friendly runner Patricia Bullrich dropped out.

Horacio Deciancio, a farmer from the town of San Vicente in the Buenos Aires province, said producers had little faith in current economy chief Massa or the government despite some talk it could cut back on grains export taxes, a key demand.

"We have a total distrust of him," Deciancio said.

Massa is helming the economy amid its worst crisis in two decades, with negative reserves and triple-digit inflation, while Milei, an outsider with no experience in government, is pledging a "chainsaw" plan for the political and economic status quo.

"(Milei) has no management experience, we don't know where he's going to go and he also has a slightly unpredictable character," said Deciancio, adding he was an "unknown" entity, despite pledges to deregulate the economy and cut taxes.

Sara Gardiol, president of the Confederation of Rural Associations of farm province Santa Fe, said that statements from both appeared to be little more than empty words.

"We need concrete action," she said. "I don't see anything concrete or clear in either of them."

Meanwhile, the president of the Argentine Agrarian Federation (FAA), Carlos Achetoni, opted for a more optimistic take, despite the complex wider economic environment that has been compounded by a recent drought that battered harvests.

"It is a very difficult moment for Argentina, but critical situations can also provide opportunities," he said.

"I hope that this opportunity allows us to recalibrate things, to talk with the different actors, but also to make sure things are clear and concrete."

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