The Kirchnerist mayor of Pehuajó, Pablo Zurro, proposes charging two liters of premium diesel per hectare in which phytosanitary products are applied. The official initiative would require that a GPS be placed on all the machines that apply these inputs within that Buenos Aires district, so that it can be monitored from the Municipality. In addition, the operations exclusion area is extended to 500 meters from the last home, plus 300 meters of buffer area.
The draft ordinance, which aims to raise the equivalent of US$1.9 million more with this scheme, was going to reach the Deliberative Council this week and the vote was postponed due to the controversy it generated.
Read also: “We need certainties”: the countryside's claim to the political leadership after the collapse of the Omnibus Law
“The Union for the Homeland ordinance is confiscatory and ridiculous. He wants to prevent applying phytosanitary products in the fields that are 500 meters from the urban ejido and requests 300 more meters of buffer area to deal only with green band products. If we cannot take care of the crops, they leave the planting area, because it is essential to keep the plots clean and healthy. The paradoxical thing about this is that products for domestic use have the same 'dangerousness' as phytosanitary products,” explained José Perkins, a farmer from Pehuajó, in statements to the Clarín newspaper.
Do you want to receive more information about the field?
“We are specialists, we have been working on this for many years, and agricultural producers do not get sicker than the rest of society, there are no indices to prove that, there is no record, there is no scientific support, no one can certify a person who is sick for a certain reason.” substance that we handle,” he stated.
With the new regulations, Perkins said, “a very large surface area is left outside of production.” For example, “if you have a home 600 meters from the last house, you already have 600 meters without being able to apply, since both houses are counted,” he explained.
In addition to the two liters of premium diesel per hectare sprayed, the ordinance requires that a GPS be placed on all machines that apply phytosanitary products in the district to monitor from the municipality where they are working. “It's crazy. A machine works for the value of five or six liters of premium diesel and they add a rate of two liters. And they don't know the compensation,” said Perkins.
Read also: The rural protest spreads across Europe with roadblocks and demands for reforms
“This is going to end in court because they do not have a justifiable benefit. When they met with applicators they were told that the rate was for operational control costs. But it is a lot of money, more or less 1,900,000 dollars that would be raised with this scheme,” added the farmer.
On the other hand, regarding the road tax, Perkins stressed that of the total collected for this concept, 75 percent is freely available. “We have a very expensive rate, only 25 percent is allocated to the care of the road network, on paper, and the roads are a disaster. A machine passes by arranging the footprints a little once or twice a year, but no maintenance or sewage work is done and there are plenty of resources to do it,” he indicated.
The payment of said rate is progressive according to the size of the establishment and is adjusted to the value of diesel. “A 1,500-hectare field in December paid its sixth installment of 960,000 pesos. And now they are changing the nomenclature from common diesel to premium diesel, meaning that this field is going to pay something like 13 million pesos a year,” Perkins estimated.
The impact of the drought is added to the fiscal pressure
In a scenario of heat wave and lack of rain that in recent days has harmed summer crops such as corn and soybeans, which are going through their crucial stages for defining yields, the producers of Pehuajó are joined by the new concern about the measures that Zurro is trying to impose. Plants are already showing symptoms of water stress and, in many cases, the losses in yield will be irreversible.
“It dried up, the drought hit, and the province increased taxes by 300 percent and the municipality by 200 percent,” said Perkins with a hint of anger muted by the fatigue of repeated injustice while observing his batch of corn scorched by drought.
Read also: The heat wave calls into question the record harvest and the Government is concerned about the income of dollars from the countryside
“The weather this year is playing tricks on us and these are the risks that one runs when one sows in the open air. But in addition to that, the Municipality wants to add a phytosanitary ordinance where they exclude for 500 meters, plus 300 meters of buffer, many lots here, this is one, and apply an extra rate of two liters of diesel per hectare,” he explained. .
José Perkins, agricultural producer in Pehuajó. (Photo: Clarín)
“These people don't know what the field is about, they don't know that a machine bills the value of five liters of diesel and they are adding two more. They are going to leave more lots out of exclusion. They always take slices from the same leather,” he claimed.
“We produce food, we produce wealth, we produce foreign currency, things that we need for this country to move forward. Taking all these batches out of production also means fewer truck trips, fewer parts sales, less fuel sales, less sales of sneakers or haircuts. Because the economy of our city is located in the middle of the humid pampa, and since it is a fertile pampa, the wealth comes from the countryside,” explained Perkins.
Read also: They warn that due to high temperatures and the absence of rain in the core zone, soybean production would fall
The producers have formed a working group with technicians and applicators that will try to explain the situation to the councilors so that they do not approve these measures that are harmful to the sector and the local economy. “If we cannot stop the ordinance, we are preparing to take legal action. And if the legal issues do not work, we will be attentive to mobilize,” he said.
“We are farmers, we produce food, what they are doing is not fair and it harms everyone, the entire community,” he said.
Fortunately, the imminent arrival of some rain is expected on the horizon and producers renew their optimism. They pray for water to arrive in the amount necessary to save their crops, while they continue to organize to resist the tax onslaught of the municipal government.