Soy-shipping turmoil deepens with transport minister’s death



Jonathan Gilbert | Buenos Aires Times

Argentine farmers struggling to ship their crops through increasingly shallow rivers may soon face a new obstacle: one of the world’s key soy waterways needs to be dredged, and there’s no firm plan for who will do it.

The government in agricultural powerhouse Argentina has had months – even years – to draft the terms of a tender to dredge the Paraná River, the source of most of the world’s soy meal for livestock feed and soy oil for cooking and biofuels. But companies eying the new multi-year contract are still in the dark and, compounding the uncertainty, the man in charge of what exactly is up for grabs, ex-transport minister Mario Meoni, died in a car crash last week.

With the future of millions of tons of crop cargoes at stake, the turmoil couldn’t come at a worse time: Argentina’s soybean and corn harvests are in full swing, and the company holding the expiring contract is working overtime to keep the river channel deep enough for ships to load them as years of dry weather shallow out water levels.

Policymakers continue to work under instructions left by ex-minister Meoni, a spokesman for the Transport Ministry said in a phone message, declining to give more details.

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