Argentina to restrict wheat export permits if low prices paid

Buenos Aires | Reuters –– Wheat exporters who buy the grain from Argentina’s farmers will not be issued permits if they pay the growers significantly less than the international price for the crop, the government said Friday.

The announcement, by Economy Minister Axel Kicillof, followed complaints by local producers that government restrictions on wheat exports artificially suppressed local prices. The government said the quotas are to make sure local consumer prices are fair.

“We will only give export permits when the price that these exporters pay the producer is near to the international price,” Kicillof told journalists after a meeting with a leading farmers’ association.

Relations between farmers and two-term President Cristina Fernandez have been severely strained since massive farm protests six years ago over her tax policies.

Leading grains exporters operating in Argentina include Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus Commodities.

“We understand that exporters are paying between 900-1,000 pesos per tonne of wheat while the selling price abroad is between 1,250-1,500 pesos per tonne,” Kicillof said.

Argentina’s 2014-15 wheat harvest has just been completed and the grain is trading at about 1,000 pesos (about C$147.30) per ton in the Rosario grains market, significantly below the 1,450 pesos in September.

Reporting for Reuters by Maximiliano Rizzi.

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