Monday, January 26, 2009

Argentina Facing Record Drought Conditions

Argentina's current plight -- drought conditions potentially causing a 40% reduction in crop output -- may present a prophetic image of the ramifications of unchecked climate change:
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez on Monday declared an agricultural emergency in areas affected by the worst drought to hit the country in four decades.
The state of emergency will allow farmers in affected areas to defer some tax payments for one year, Fernandez said.

Argentina, a leading world producer of soy, corn, wheat and beef, is suffering from dry conditions in much of its agricultural belt. Crop estimates are being cut as cattle die of thirst.

"In the face of this hard, painful reality, the government is extending its hand to these farmers," Cabinet Chief Sergio Massa told reporters after Fernandez announced the state of emergency.

Farmers, locked in political battle with the government over what they call high export taxes, say they want better long-term emergency planning rather than the subsidies and other short-term benefits offered by Fernandez.

The corn planting season is just ending, but output in the current crop cycle could fall up to 40 percent from the last harvest, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange has forecast.

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