Argentina Sold $24 Billion of Soybeans to Boost Reserves

Argentine farmers exported more than $300 million worth of grains and oilseeds in the last two days of 2014 to help bring in much needed cash for the nation’s central bank.

Farmers sold $365 million for a total of $24.1 billion of grains and oilseed last year to boost central bank reserves, which had slid to a seven-year low in October, exporter group Ciara-Cec said today in a statement. The previous record for such exports was $25.1 billion in 2011.

Fourth-quarter sales helped stabilize the economy in Argentina, which gets about one-third of its export revenue from commodities. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government persuaded farmers on Oct. 22 to stop hoarding the harvest and sell to replenish reserves. Argentina’s reserves, which plunged 37 percent to $27.3 billion before the accord between government and exporters, were $31.4 billion at year-end, according to central bank data.

“The sizable 2014 harvest, as much as the measures taken by the government during the first half of 2014, were critical to stabilize the economy,” Sebastian Vargas, an economist at Barclays Plc, said by telephone from New York.

Argentina, the world’s largest soybean oil and derivatives exporter, harvested a record soybean crop of 53.4 million metric tons last year, exceeding the prior record of 52.7 million in 2010, according to data compiled by the Agriculture Ministry. Corn is the country’s second most exported crop.

Farmers had been holding on to about $4 billion of soybeans, Economy Minister Axel Kicillof said in a January 2014 radio interview. Hoarding was estimated at $3 billion in August and September by Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich.

The grain exporters association is comprised of international distributors such as Cargill Inc., Bunge Ltd. and Louis Dreyfus Commodities BV as well as local producers including Cresud SACIF & A and Molinos Rio de La Plata SA.

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