Annie Cooper was looking outside her kitchen window at another orchard
of nuts going into the ground. This one was being planted right across
the street. Before the trees even arrived, the big grower — no one from
around here seems to know his name — turned on the pump to test his new
deep well, and it was at that precise moment, Annie says, when the water
in his plowed field gushed like flood time, that the Coopers’ house
This is basically an agrarian nation with some impressive industrial capacity. Make no mistake, however, agriculture pays the bills.
Although the opposite view persists, the chickens are coming home to roost. During the past few years of extraordinary grain prices, Argentina has been able to heavily tax grain exports in order to fund general revenues. Soy and corn exports are taxed at 35% of the sale price ...without regard to what expenses were required to produce those grains (beef exports, when allowed, are taxed at 15%.)
Now, the demand for soy and corn has declined ...and this is reflected in its price. This presents some big problems for a nation that has grown accustomed to financing programs with the proceeds of agriculture.
That might not have been such a big issue had farmers and ranchers and dairy producers felt free to invest their profits into their operations and expand them.
As it is, no agricultural person is investing in expanding their business. The current decline in grain prices is making this even worse.
If we were truly an industrial nation, we could weather this storm without much trouble. However, the denial that our exports are mainly agricultural leads to problems that could take years to reverse.
As a socialist, I could never advocate exporting food from the plates of my fellow countrymen for private profit and national revenue ...but to kill the geese that laid the golden eggs here in this beautiful land for so long seems a ridiculous recipe.
Argentina needs the expansion of agriculture here more than ever. The world needs the expansion of Argentine agriculture more than ever.
Left to our own devices, we ag-types will over-produce ourselves into the poor house. If, however, buying a new pick-up or going on vacation makes more sense than buying a new tractor or artificially inseminating ...it won't be just us farmers/ranchers who will suffer in the long-term.
What a great way to spend a month during which my missus and I were rained out of our ranch!
Since about mid-August, I've been an assistant on a BBC documentary, thanks to a referral from Angela of San Telmo Loft (since the crew was staying with San Telmo Loft, I had the opportunity to comfortably lounge around a couple of her properties ...they are wonderful and everything Angela says they are.)
The documentary which is yet untitled devotes its eventual one hour to the state of Argentine beef and eventually ended in Mendoza for a peek at the best drink to accompany a great grass-fed steak (if you can find one, that is.)
What started out as research, turned into an on-camera appearance at the Liniers Stockyards with the host/presenter, John Torode of BBC Masterchef fame ...wherein yer Yanq gets to hold forth from a rancher's perspective.
Then, it all morphed into my traveling with the crew from Buenos Aires to the wine country of Mendoza ...clocking more than 1600 miles round-trip in three vehicles. Whew. Those BBC guys are a hard working bunch.
Along with the crew were two local seasoned TV pros, Lalo Lema and Wendy Mata, who both informed me that they had never seen the likes of the production values and professionalism and generosity of spirit shown by the BBC crew. I was impressed ...but I had nothing in my experience to compare it to.
As for the BBC crew: Richard Sharman, Director; Leila Finikarides, Assistant Producer; Andrew Muggleton, Cameraman Extraordinaire; & Ian Eason, Sound Artist ...I cannot say enough. Through all the sweat and grunting effort to make the shoot real and worthy of the BBC's standards, every effort was made toward harmony throughout the team ...and what a team it was to watch in action.
The brutal slog to Mendoza and back (once for their recce and once for filming!) could have been unbearable ...but it was a pleasure although a hard-won one.
God, how I wish I had more photos of the wrap party! Well, we were all too busy to take very many, if you know what I mean.