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    Uruguay Land Prices Double as Farm Policies Lure Soros, Marfrig

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    Uruguay Land Prices Double as Farm Policies Lure Soros, Marfrig

    Post by sang_garuda on Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:10 am

    July 24 -- Uruguayan farmer Alberto Gramont interrupts a family lunch to answer the telephone. The call, he says as he returns to his plate of beef, was from a Brazilian meatpacker offering to buy his land.

    ``I'm not selling any of my farms, but I have always gone against the grain,'' says Gramont, 66, whose land covers an area the size of Manhattan. ``Here everyone is selling their land.''

    A third of Uruguay's agricultural property may now be owned by foreigners, according to Uruguay's Rural Association. They include farm companies PGG Wrightson Ltd. of New Zealand and Buenos Aires-based Adecoagro, which is backed by billionaire investor George Soros.

    International buyers, seeking to take advantage of rising global food prices, are attracted by the South American country's relatively cheap land, policies that encourage foreign investment, and no tariffs on farm exports, said Roberto Vazquez Platero, a former agriculture minister. As a result, farm prices have more than doubled in three years.

    Prime land near Uruguay's western border with Argentina now costs $7,000 a hectare (2.47 acres), compared with $3,000 a hectare in 2005, said Michael Thomas, general manager of NZ Farming Systems Uruguay Ltd., which is managed and part-owned by Wrightson, New Zealand's biggest agricultural services company.

    On Argentina's fertile Pampas plains, a hectare costs as much as $10,700, according to farm industry newsletter Margenes Agropecuarios.

    ``The west has priced up with the Argentines coming across and planting soy,'' Thomas said in a telephone interview from Christchurch, New Zealand.

    Iowa Corn Belt

    Some Pampas land is now more expensive than in the Iowa corn belt, where, according to Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, prices averaged a record $9,657 a hectare in 2007.

    Farm prices have been pushed up by rising world consumption of cereals, oilseeds and meat. As a result, global food values rose more than 43 percent in the past 12 months, according to the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

    In Uruguay, Argentine farmers don't face the same taxes and price controls as they do at home. After four months of protests, Argentina's producers forced President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to cancel a March 11 increase in oilseed export taxes to more than 45 percent from 35 percent. The scrapped tax would have made it unprofitable for many farmers, already stretched by the 35 percent levy, to grow soybeans, said Eduardo Buzzi, head of the Argentine Agrarian Federation.

    By contrast, Uruguay, whose population of 3.3 million is less than a tenth of Argentina's, charges farmers a flat 25 percent tax on their income.

    `Investment Was Welcomed'

    ``What Uruguay did was simply not to interfere,'' Eduardo Blasina, an agriculture analyst, said in an interview in Montevideo. ``Investment was welcomed.''

    Argentine regulations that force meatpackers to sell three- quarters of their output to the domestic market at capped prices may cause the nation's beef production and exports to drop, said Hugo Biolcati, vice president of Argentina's Rural Society. The controls are causing ranchers to send increasing numbers of breeding cows to slaughter, which will cause the country's cattle herd to decline in coming years, Biolcati said.

    At the same time, rising investment will lead to an expansion of the herd in Uruguay, whose territory covers an area smaller than the Argentine province of Buenos Aires.

    It's ``only a matter of time'' before Uruguay overtakes Argentina as a beef exporter, Biolcati said.

    Argentina was the world's fifth largest beef shipper in 2007, while Uruguay ranked eighth, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    Rising Exports

    Uruguay's beef exports may rise to 430,000 metric tons this year from 381,000 tons in 2007, Uruguayan Meat Institute agronomist Felipe d'Albora said.

    Argentine beef exports fell 3.6 percent to 532,000 tons in 2007 from the previous year, according to the agriculture department.

    Uruguay sells most of its beef to Europe, Russia and the U.S., which has banned imports of fresh meat from Argentina and Brazil on sanitary grounds.

    Marcelo Civelli, who manages La Esquina Criolla butcher and restaurant in Queens, New York, started importing from Uruguay to meet demand for grass-fed beef after an outbreak of foot-and- mouth disease in Argentina led to a U.S. ban in 2001.

    ``People didn't realize there was another country just across the River Plate that produces basically the same thing,'' said Civelli, whose father is Argentine.

    Sao Paulo-based Marfrig Frigorificos & Comercio de Alimentos SA, the world's fourth-biggest meatpacker, has acquired four Uruguayan slaughterhouses.

    ``They have four head of cattle per person, so they have plenty to export,'' said Ricardo Florence, Marfrig's director of investor relations.

    Gaucho Pants

    The presence of foreign investment is barely noticeable on farms around Young, a town of 15,000 inhabitants where cowboys on horseback wear gaucho-style baggy pants, red neck-scarves and black berets.

    Gramont, who works from a two-room office in Young, which was named after an English settler, said he expanded his farms after receiving a personal assurance from President Tabare Vazquez that the government wouldn't tax grains and oilseeds.

    ``Uruguay is so small that if you want to speak to a minister you just ring him up,'' Gramont said. ``You try doing that in Argentina.''
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    Re: Uruguay Land Prices Double as Farm Policies Lure Soros, Marfrig

    Post by car0_linex on Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:52 pm

    thank 4 sharing affraid
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    Re: Uruguay Land Prices Double as Farm Policies Lure Soros, Marfrig

    Post by Prodip2007 on Sat Aug 09, 2008 8:00 am

    Thank u bro for sharing that.Gud job bro.Keep up bro.And enjoy our forum.

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    Re: Uruguay Land Prices Double as Farm Policies Lure Soros, Marfrig

    Post by sodong on Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:24 am

    thanks 4 info bro garuda rock

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