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Is there a revolution in Argentine agriculture?

Задава ли се революция в аржентинското земеделие?
Argentine voters chose far-right libertarian candidate Javier Millay as the next president in a Nov. 19 runoff election against Peronist candidate Sergio Massa, raising hopes among the farming community that his radical ideas to fix a battered economy hit by triple-digit inflation will be a boost to agriculture and trade.

In his victory speech, Millay declared that “the impoverishing pattern of decline is over and there is no turning back. The situation is critical and there is no room for cold half-measures."

Millay promised a radical change to the policies adopted by the Peronist regime, which has ruled the country for 16 of the past 20 years. Currently, the government levies taxes of 33 percent on soybean exports, 31 percent on shipments of soybean meal and soybean oil, and 12 percent on international sales of wheat and corn.

With the economy in shambles, Millay promised to end Argentina's decline by introducing a reform program with three pillars: drastically reducing the size of government, respecting private property, and promoting free trade.

The new president plans to stimulate the economy by cutting spending, taxes and regulations, privatizing state industries and disbanding government ministries.

He is also considering leaving the Mercosur trade group, closing the Central Bank and dollarizing the economy by replacing the Argentine peso with the US dollar.

One of the biggest concerns among the farming community is Millay's lack of political experience and how quickly he can replace political rhetoric with action that will have a material impact. His policies may one day encourage less grain hoarding and eliminate export duties, but the actual timetable remains a mystery.

Millay received 56 percent of the vote, compared to current Economy Minister Sergio Massa's 44 percent, but his Liberty Advance party may struggle to push its ambitious agenda through Argentina's Congress.

His party holds only 7 of the 72 seats in the Senate, less than 10 percent, and only 38 of the 257 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, less than 15 percent. Add to that the empty treasury and the burden of US$44 billion from the International Monetary Fund, all prerequisites that could turn the bumps in the new president's path into an abyss.

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