The Damage is Done

Day is Done by katiealley on Flickr

A stunning vote in the Argentine Congress on Friday led to the president's withdrawal of a highly controversial agricultural tax put into place earlier this year. For those of you who haven't been following the situation, the recently-elected president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, handed down a decision in March to increase overnight the tax on agricultural exports from 35 to 44 percent. This move came without congressional approval and set off a firestorm of controversy and protests throughout the country, bringing about food shortages, price increases and a deep lack of faith in the new government.

The tie-breaking vote against the tax, cast by none other than the vice president, has shown that apparently the government does listen to the will of the people on occasion. Unfortunately, the farm conflict tarnished Argentina's image as a reliable agricultural exporter, and several countries began looking elsewhere when exports came to a standstill. Argentina is missing out just as the worldwide demand for wheat, soybeans and other crops is greater than ever.

Although the agricultural producers can breathe a sigh of relief for the time being, many are wondering what la presidenta has in store for the future while lamenting the losses they incurred as a result of the conflict. For example, Daniel's family, landowners in the province of Buenos Aires, made the decision at the start of winter to leave the fields fallow this growing season. Daniel explained that operating under the tax increase, the chance for profitability was extremely low. Any unexpected circumstance, such as the breakdown of a piece of farm machinery requiring an expensive repair or replacement, would cause profits to evaporate. His family decided to wait and see how the conflict would be resolved, and they are pleased with the outcome, but regrettably they have lost the opportunity for a harvest, as it is too late to sow crops for the coming season.

Here's hoping that Cristina doesn't have another trick up her sleeve because the country has got a lot of catching up to do.

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