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High prices drive Argentina agricultural exports to record high

BUENOS AIRES — High international grain and oilseed prices drove Argentine agricultural exports to a record high $9.755 billion in the first four months of 2021, the CIARA-CEC chamber of export companies said.

The previous record was $8.408 billion reported in January-April 2016, the chamber said in a report. The South American grains powerhouse is the world’s No. 3 corn exporter and its top supplier of soymeal livestock feed used to fatten hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia.

CIARA-CEC said idle capacity of Argentina’s grain processing industry fell to between 38% and 41% in the first three months of the year, after a record in soybean milling was reached in March, when 3.39 million tons of the oilseed were processed.

Many Argentine farmers are opting to hoard crops this year due to instability in the peso and high inflation that makes stockpiling soy and corn more profitable than saving in the anemic local currency.

The central bank needs all the export dollars it can get to help replenish foreign currency reserves strained by a three-year-old recession exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Argentine farmers have sold 16.4 million tons of 2020/21 soybeans, including deals for 869,200 tons registered over the last week, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Wednesday in a report with data updated through April 28.

The sales are lagging last year’s tempo. At this point in 2020, some 20.8 million tons of Argentine soybeans had been sold, according to official data.

The government said sales of 2020/21 corn had reached 24.5 million tons, 850,000 tons more than at this time last year. — Reuters

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