Argy Crop Report 'Contains Errors'

Almost a fortnight late, Monday's estimate from the Argentine Agricultural Secretariat pegging 2009 soybean production at 37-39 million tonnes, has subsequently been "pulled" with the Ag Sec saying that "it is a preliminary document that contains errors."

This will only add fuel to the fire amidst claims of skulduggery, and the deliberate withholding of information by the government.

Was the estimate too low or too high? Nobody seems to know. Initial reactions were wow that's on the low side (the current USDA estimate is 43 million tonnes). But then again other private estimates in circulation peg the crop potentially 35 million or less. One report I saw earlier in the week was as low as 30 million tonnes.

The Agriculture Secretariat denies that political meddling is to blame for the delays in weekly and monthly crop reports. "The crop estimations office is being restructured. These are technical issues, they are absolutely not political. As soon as possible, the situation’s going to get back to normal," a Secretariat spokesman said.

But then again, they would say that wouldn't they? The director of the department that produces the report, Mario Camarero, was recently sacked. Daily newspaper Clarin said that the release of this and other reports have been deliberately blocked.

There have been no official reports on grains & oilseed stocks since Oct 1st, and no figures on export sales commitments since June 2008, despite the fact that the official state agency ONCCA requires movements to be faxed through to its offices daily.

It would seem that the government are the only ones who know what grain & oilseed production, movement and stock numbers are. And in their ongoing battle with the farmers, they aren't telling.