Argentina sees grains windfall from US drought

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — America’s loss is Argentina’s gain. Record soy prices due to a punishing drought in the U.S. heartland are expected to create billions of dollars in new revenue for the South American country, which is the world’s third-largest soy producer behind the U.S. and Brazil.

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Trucker Miguel Gospodneich, slightly obscured by grain dust, watches as soybeans shoot from the shaft of a grain harvester into his truck to be transported for sale, near Pergamino, Argentina. Record soy prices due to the punishing drought in America’s heartland has been a boon for Argentina, where the government expects to collect billions in new revenues.

Prices for soybeans for August delivery gained 50.25 cents, or 3 percent, to end at $17.3375 a bushel. Corn also beat its all-time high of a year ago, with September deliveries rising 12.75 cents to finish at $8.0775 per bushel. September wheat also rose a sharp 31.75 cents to close at $9.35 per bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, its highest prices since 2008.

A punishing U.S. drought has reduced supplies of the very grains Argentina grows in abundance — mostly to China, which buys 80 percent of Argentina’s soy. Global grain supplies also are under pressure from lowered estimates in Russia and an “underperforming Indian monsoon” season, Barclays Capital said in its commodities briefing on Thursday. Meanwhile, Chinese demand remains strong, so supplies will likely remain tight until the next South American harvest, the report said.

Argentine soy producers still have nearly a third of their last harvest in silos and expect windfall profits now that they can sell at record highs. Since Argentina’s latest budget was based on soy selling at $440 a ton, the government also expects major new revenues from its 35-percent take in export taxes.

Rural Society President Hugo Biolcati accused the government Thursday of strangling the country’s booming farm sector.

“These huge taxes add up to a suffocating burden on farming, with clearly confiscatory effects, forcing this resource to subsidize unbalanced national, provincial and municipal budgets,” Biolcati complained at the industry’s annual trade fair.

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