20.04.2018 |

Argentine small-scale farmers give away vegetables in land protest

Verdurazo in 2016 (Photo: Emergente,, cc:

Farmers in Argentina have distributed tonnes of produce for free as part of a protest to demand access to land. The event dubbed “el verdurazo” started on Tuesday, with some 1,500 farmers gathering outside Congress in the capital of Buenos Aires in order to press for the passage of a law that would enable family farmers and other small producers to buy the land they farm. During the three-day protest, farmers handed out a total of 30,000 kilograms of vegetables to everyone who came to their campsite. People, most of them pensioners, were queuing to get heads of lettuce, tomatoes, beans or eggplant unloaded from the back of trucks. The protest was organised by the farmworkers union “Unión de Trabajadores de la Tierra” (UTT), which represents 14,000 small-scale farming families in 16 provinces of the country. The organisation advocates a law that would improve the situation of Argentina’s small-scale farmers. “This bill responds to the needs of hundreds of thousands of small producers who produce more than 60% of the food consumed in the country with 13% of the country’s arable land,” UTT said in statement. “Families that live off the land, on the land and for the land, but whose land does not belong to them. They are prisoners of expensive and speculative rents that eat up large parts of the fruit of their labour. If farmers do not own their land, this does not only mean having to pay a rent, it also means not being able to put down roots, not being able to make plans and having to live in precarious housing conditions.”

On Wednesday, UTT presented its proposal in a public hearing in the Chamber of Deputies. The billed called “Fondo Fiduciario Público de Crédito para la Agricultura Familiar” would facilitate access to land through credits with low interest rates for small farmers. “The state should take action on this matter. We do not want handouts. We propose soft loans, an extension of the government housing program Procrear to rural areas, so that farmers can gain access to the land that is the basis of their work, in the same way urban residents get help buy their own homes,” UTT said. The union welcomed the participation of legislators, public institutions and organisations in the hearing but they were deeply disappointed at the absence of the Ministry of Agro-industry. The union argues the government is supporting large land-owners and agribusiness while marginalising small producers. According to UTT, the national government will give 145 million dollars to agribusiness in 2018, for example with credits handed out due to the drought or tax cuts for soy farmers. “We accuse the government of transferring $145 million to the largest sector, which grows fodder for Chinese pigs,” a UTT representative said. “Zero pesos for everyone else. There’s (money) for the big players and nothing for the small ones.” The union projects that with 100 million pesos (5 million dollars) for the Procrear Rural programme, 500 small-scale farmers could get access to 500 hectares of land, which would allow them to produce food for 62,500 families per year. (ab)

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