Argentina Sees Wheat, Corn Crops Setting Records Under New Rules

  • Output may easily double in future harvests, Minister says
  • Country eliminated taxes and export permits that set quotas

Argentina is poised to double its wheat and corn crops after recently revised grain export policies, Buenos Aires Province Agriculture Minister Leonardo Sarquis said.

The government published a decree Tuesday in the official gazette ending its export permit policy. President Mauricio Macri had eliminated export taxes on corn and wheat as well as bureaucratic export permits since assuming office on Dec. 10.

Export restrictions were implemented in the past decade under former presidents Nestor Kirchner and his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in a bid to boost government revenue and ensure domestic supplies. Local prices for both cereals slumped and farmers reduced wheat plantings, switching to crops that didn’t require export permits and weren’t taxed such as barley.

“Now that we have changed these wrong policies, the wheat planted area will be doubled by farmers," Sarquis said in an interview. "Corn may take another year to double, but for sure we will have record crops of both cereals from now on."

Buenos Aires province produces 70 percent of the country’s wheat.

Peso Devaluation

Argentina’s Agriculture Ministry is forecasting the current wheat crop to be 10.9 million metric tons. That’s below the 2007-08 record crop of 16.4 million, before the export permit policy was initiated.

The country’s record corn crop of 27 million tons was harvested in the 2013-2014 season, according to the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange. Argentina is the world’s fourth-largest corn exporter.

The export of grains has become more profitable for farmers after Argentina’s government lifted four years of currency controls, leading to the the biggest one-day peso devaluation in the last 14 years on Dec. 17.

In the last 10 days, Argentina, the world’s largest shipper of soybean derivatives, shipped three times the amount of grains and oilseed abroad that it sold in the entire month of November. It shipped $1.2 billion of grains and oilseed in the last 10 days compared with November exports of $451 million, according to the exporters’ group data.

Export taxes for soybeans were cut to 30 percent from 35 percent by Macri.

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