Uruguay's Drought-Stricken Rural Producers Call for Gov't Action, Say Will Lose US$500M


Uruguay will lose US$500 million as a consequence of the drought affecting the region for a few months, the South American country‘s rural producers said Monday after a round-table conference with the senators and opposition deputies. 

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Eduardo Blasina, the agronomist, said the producers need adequate resources to overcome the drought affecting the region. Blasina also accused Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez of turning a deaf ear to farmers’ issues. 

"The government lists a number of measures to say ‘look what we have done and still you ask us for more’ but the issue is not the number of measures but the impact they have," Blasina said according to local newspaper El Litoral. 

On March 1, Uruguay government declared a 90-day agricultural emergency in the drought-affected northern part of the South American country, covering the provinces of Artigas, Salto, Paysandu, Rivera, Tacuarembo, Rio Negro and Durazno.

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The government has initiated the Agricultural Emergency Fund (FAE), which provides no-interest loans to family farmers, with no more than 500 hectares (1,235.5 acres) of land. The FAE loans can only be obtained through the campesino organizations and only by individuals who don’t have an impending balance to pay, stemming from past loans.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Farming and Fishing said the loans will benefit around 2,200 livestock and dairy operations. The government will also provide soy feed for the livestock. In the absence of rain, the government must use "every tool" at its disposal to address the shortage of water, Agriculture Minister Enzo Benech said.

The country’s rural movements are also planning marches Wednesday throughout the country in ports, free zones, customs and border crossings, under the banner, "One Uruguay" to demand reduction in electricity and fuel prices.


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