Little fallout from a bit of Argie bargieTHE bankruptcy of Argentina and the devaluation of its currency does not appear to present any real threat to our rural sector. The most vulnerable are exporters of wheat and oilseeds, who will be faced with rival production theoretically up to 40 per cent cheaper. WA lupins compete directly with Argentinean soyabeans as stockfeed.But that is only half the story. The South American country is in the knacker’s yard. Almost half the 36 million people exist below the poverty line and unemployment is north of 18 per cent. The economy has been incinerated, hyperinflation may be on the way back, and farmers cannot get enough cash out of the bank to pay for fuel.Cattle baron Peter Holmes a Court was in town last week. Briefcase asked him how the pulverised peso might affect his Australian Agricultural Co. He pointed out that Argentina beef is a foot-and-mouth victim, which will shut it out of export markets for years.“Longer term, there is the prospect of extra price competition.” he said. “If it comes along we will deal with it.”AAC shares, which slid to 74 cents after the lacklustre float last year, have been on the comeback trail recently and briefly touched 96 cents.They have lost ground again on news that mad cow disease in Japan has curbed the appetite for beef. There also have been unfounded fears that an anthrax outbreak in Queensland might hurt the company.Mr Holmes a Court is due to announce the interim figures on February 12 and give an indication of how the $21 million full-year profit forecast is travelling.
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