Argentine Farmers' Dispute Latest

Farm leaders emerged weary from their fourth meeting in as many weeks with Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo, Production Minister Débora Giorgi and Agriculture Secretary Carlos Cheppi.

It seems that they may have finally got the message that, as far as the government is concerned, No means No.

The only surprising feature about this latest escalation in a year-long dispute, principally over taxes on soybean exports, is that is has taken so long for the message to sink in.

It is glaringly obvious that the government needs the revenue generate by taxes on agricultural exports more than ever before. Faced with massive debts that need to be repaid or rescheduled in 2009, whether you agree with the legitimacy of the taxes or not, the government simply can't afford to give them up.

"Regrettably, the government’s main priority is revenue. As from this moment the (farmers’) liaison board sets the debate in Congress as one of its main priorities," said Eduardo Buzzi after yesterday's meeting.

So, for now at least, it seems that the farm leaders are pinning their hopes on fighting their case via Congress. Whether they will again employ roadblocks and sales embargoes on grains and meat to hammer home their point remains to be seen.

Initial reports seem to suggest that on the whole the farm leaders seem to be against such action, wary of losing support from the public.

The farm groups may decide to have one last push via Congress before resorting to Plan A.