Argentina's Macri Seen Spurring Return to Wheat Heights of Past

  • Planting could return to level not seen for a more than decade
  • Macri’s recent policies are helping to promote grain exports

Argentina President Mauricio Macri’s triumph in midterm legislative elections not only galvanized his supporters and sparked a bond rally -- it’s nurtured dreams of the nation’s wheat farmers to reach the heights of bygone years.

Planting has already rebounded to 5.45 million hectares (13.5 million acres) this season, the most in a decade, according to the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange. As farmers continue to respond to Macri’s policies that promote exports, it won’t be long before they’re sowing even more, said David Hughes, head of wheat chamber ArgenTrigo.

“The previous government quashed us, but now we can easily go beyond 6 million hectares,” Hughes said.

That’s how much Argentina’s farmers were planting in the early 2000s, before a clash with ex-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over export taxes. During her second term, from 2011 to 2015, seeding slumped to its lowest since the early 1900s, Agroindustry Ministry data shows.

Macri scrapped a wheat export tax of 23 percent when he took office in December 2015. More recently, he’s been opening new markets to secure clients for surplus grain not purchased by neighboring Brazil, Argentina’s biggest buyer. That may soon pose a problem for farmers who’ll have to adhere to more sanitary controls, Hughes said.

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