By Darío Aranda
The verdurazo in Plaza de Mayo, when twenty thousand kilos of vegetables were delivered, brought to the fore the claims of family farmers and peasants before the national government. The Union of Land Workers (UTT), promoter of the action, presented a bill that aims to debate the agricultural model: the need for land redistribution. A dozen rural organizations demand a budget for the sector while the Association of State Workers (ATE) denounced 250 dismissals in the Secretariat of Family Agriculture (SAF).
The delivery of vegetables, on September 14, was a way to demand fair prices for rural producers and also pointed to the concentration of land in few hands. In Argentina, according to INTA data, three percent of agricultural holdings have 50 percent of the country's productive land.
"The Public Trust Fund of Credit for Family Agriculture was established as a policy of economic and social development, the purpose of which is to facilitate access to credits for the acquisition of land for family farming," says the first article of the bill presented by the UTT in Congress. The producer families (from Greater La Plata, Berazategui, San Vicente, Luján and Escobar) work between half and four hectares, and suffer the siege of private neighborhoods and real estate speculators.
“More than 2000 families went out to show the reality in which they live and in which the vegetables they eat in Buenos Aires are produced. As an example, of the lettuce that you pay between 20/40 pesos per kilo, the producer only gets one peso, "explained Nahuel Levaggi, from the UTT.
The Minister of Agroindustry, Ricardo Buryaile, questioned the claim: "Instead of giving away in Plaza de Mayo, they are going to sell at the fair." And he pointed out that they had never asked for an audience. The rural organization had demonstrated last December, in front of the Ministry's headquarters (it had also done it with the previous government) and had even been received by the Chief of Staff, Guillermo Bernaudo, but it did not offer them any concrete solution.
On September 19 they met again with Bernaudo. “We proposed a table to analyze the land bill and a concrete response from the Government. In ten days they promised an answer ”, explained Agustín Suárez of the UTT. They also stated that the Secretariat of Family Agriculture is "without a budget and emptied." The Chief of the Agroindustry Cabinet acknowledged the lack of funds. "He said that he was‘ expectant and anxious ’waiting for the budget, as if he had nothing to do with it," questioned Suárez.
In parallel, a dozen peasant organizations that make up the Council of Family, Peasant and Indigenous Agriculture (a space officially recognized as an advisor to the Secretariat of Family Agriculture) met from September 13 to 15 and issued a statement. "The sector is being seriously harmed by the political decisions of the Government", affirms the document signed by the Indigenous Peasant Assembly of North Argentina (Acina), the National Indigenous Peasant Movement (MNCI), the Family Agriculture Forum (Fonaf), the Movimiento Campesino Liberación (MCL), the Argentine Union of Artisanal Fishermen (UAPA) and the Agroecological Movement of Latin America (Maela), among others.
They questioned the removal (and reduction) of withholdings on agribusiness products (such as soybeans and corn) and denounced the emptying of policies for the peasant sector. The organizations demand the urgent regulation of Law 27,118, called "historical repair of family farming." The norm was approved in 2014 but the budget was never assigned to it nor was it regulated for its full application.
The secretary of Family Agriculture, Oscar Alloatti, did not give concrete answers. "It is of the utmost urgency that measures be taken with specific funds to meet the needs of our producers," the farmers requested.
Minister Buryaile did not respond to the peasant organizations, but on the same day he made a gesture to the agribusiness entrepreneurs: “For us, withholdings must disappear. President Macri's commitment is to lower withholdings, we are going to lower them because we understand that it is a bad tax ”.
On September 13 and 14 there was a national plenary of delegates from the Secretariat of Family Agriculture (SAF-ATE). With the Buryaile-Alloatti administration, they have already counted 250 dismissals (in Chaco and Corrientes there were massive telegrams).