Argentina wheat policy sows uncertainty

Wheat farmers and exporters in Argentina say the government should announce new-crop export quotas as soon as possible if it wants to spur sowing and lock in high global prices after years of declining output.

Argentina is a major world supplier of wheat, soy and corn at a time when consumer nations are clamouring for South American grains to compensate for disappointing harvests in breadbaskets Russia, the United States and Australia. However, the government limits wheat and corn exports to ensure ample domestic food supplies.

Growers say the policy keeps them guessing about how much wheat to plant and some have swapped to alternative crops that can be exported freely like soy and beer barley.

David Hughes, who manages 7,500 hectares in Argentina’s main agricultural province of Buenos Aires, wants the government to announce the upcoming season’s exportable wheat quota by March.

But there has been little certainty about when the government will announce each season’s quota. Wheat planting in Argentina starts in late May and ends in August, with most seeds going into the ground in June and July.

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