BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Thousands of Argentine farmers protested in Buenos Aires on Saturday against President Alberto Fernandez, whose policies to contain food prices to curb rampant inflation have been criticized by the agricultural sector.
Argentina is one of the world’s top food exporters and the sector is key to Latin America’s third-largest economy.
Protesters waved Argentinian flags and rode tractors onto a road in front of the Casa Rosada presidential palace in the capital. It is rare for farmers to protest in Buenos Aires, as they usually hold such demonstrations in rural areas.
Fernandez has intervened in the grains and meat sector, at one point limiting how much meat producers could export in order to prioritize domestic supply.
Protesters held signs reading: “We pay for roads but instead get swamps” and “lower the taxes.”
They also issued their demands for a reduction in taxes in a letter to the government that was read at the protest and later provided to the media.
“We have a simple demand: we are no longer willing to fund the rope that is being used to choke us,” the letter read.
The protest was not organized by a specific organization.
Taxes rose under former President Mauricio Macri, a conservative, and have continued to rise under Fernandez, a leftist. A 12% tax is levied on wheat and corn exports, which rises to 33% in the case of soy, flour and cooking oil exports.
Argentina has battled extremely high inflation for years – it hovered around 50% in 2021 – making food policy a particularly delicate task for the government.
In the past year, farmers have also protested against limits on meat exports that Fernandez eventually relaxed.
(Reporting by Maximilian Heath and Walter Bianchi; Editing by Paul Simao)