The King Found Alive In Argentina

No, not that one, I'm talking about Gustavo Grobocopatel, Argentina’s "soybean king" as the media love to call him - reputedly the largest farmer in the country.

I'm sure that he probably hates being referred to as the soybean king, but he does seem to talk sense and raises some interesting points, for a man with a vested interest, at a meeting of the Argentine Productivity Movement (MPA).

Here's what he has got to say about the controversial soybean tax:

"Duties favour the concentration of land in a few hands because they don’t tax profits but revenue," he said, echoing claims by the liaison board formed by the leaders of the country’s four main farm lobbies: FAA, CRA, SRA and Coninagro.

"With the duty system farmers continue to pay even when they lose money. Farmers who earn the least — that is, in the years that they actually earn money — get a lot less. And not only that system concentrates riches in a few hands, but also leads to a concentration in the richest areas."

He also points out that government tinkering with export licence restrictions on corn and wheat last year are partially responsible for Argentine farmers planting less of those crops, thereby going "too soy".

Lower wheat plantings combined with last years drought making it now "highly likely" that the world's fifth largest exporter of wheat in previous seasons may now have to import the grain in 2009, he said.

Argentina is also the world’s largest supplier of sunseed, the second-largest of corn and one of the largest exporters of sorghum.

Grobocopatel, whose company is called Los Grobo, said the drought is "terrible," adding that Buenos Aires province, the country’s richest, is heading to losing half of its harvest.

Farmers estimate that the 2008/09 wheat harvest declined to eight million tons from 16 million last season and that the country may be even forced not only to import wheat but also corn and beef.