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Corn+Soybean Digest

Argentine Farmers May Halt Strike

Argentina's farmers are expected to announce that they will suspend a nationwide farm strike beginning Wednesday to facilitate new talks with the government, a spokesman for one of the leading farm groups told Dow Jones newswires on Monday.

While a formal decision has not been reached yet, leaders of the four top farm groups are likely to announce the suspension, a spokesman for the Argentine Agrarian Federation said.

"The conflict needs to be resolved. The country can't continue with this confrontation," Luciano Miguens, president of the Argentine Rural Society, another of the four farm groups leading the strike, told the Todo Noticias television network.

There is concern that a prolonged protest could slow Argentina’s economic growth, and opinion polls show a vast majority of Argentines are anxious for the conflict to end.

Farmers resumed striking on May 8 in their most recent protest over increased soy export taxes. A three-week strike back in March, in which farmers blocked roads, disrupted Argentine exports and also caused local food shortages.

Word that the strike would likely be suspended helped pressure CBOT soybean futures sharply lower on Monday morning and sent spot barge basis bids for soybeans down by 3-5 cents/bu. at the Louisiana Gulf export market.

Rains Light in Eastern Australia
Good weekend rainfall in southern and southeastern Australia has triggered full-scale wheat planting there, but the key eastern growing state of New South Wales mostly missed out on the rains, farm analysts and weather officials said.

Farmers in New South Wales, which normally produces about 30% of the country's wheat crop, were anxiously waiting for rain to begin to plant a forecast record wheat crop, after two years of drought-devastated crops.

"New South Wales has been pretty disappointing," Ron Storey of private group Australian Crop Forecasters told Reuters News Service.

Around 20 mm. (0.8 in.) of weekend rain fell over western parts of Victoria state and in southeastern South Australia.

"That would have got the tractors going," said Andrew Watkins, senior climatologist at the National Climate Centre of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Farmers contacted by Reuters in the Mallee wheat-growing area of Victoria state said on Monday they were starting full-scale planting.

But rain in New South Wales had been generally light at less than 10 mm.

Storey said he was maintaining his forecast for a record Australian wheat crop of 27 mmt because of the encouraging downpours in South Australia and Victoria.

However, the lack of rain in New South Wales could begin to see Australian grain prices rise, said Garry Booth of commodities broker MF Global.

New South Wales growers still had until the end of May to plant their crops, but after that date planting and growing would become difficult, Storey said.

Some southern parts of the state were already over 50% planted after rain three weeks ago, he said.

No rain is forecast in eastern growing areas for the next 7-10 days.

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