04 May 2010

The Back Roads II

An earlier posting on the roads in Argentina addressed some of the challenges of getting around after rain. I've been on a lot more roads since then and the same theme holds true. Rain and back roads in Argentina are a bad mix.

Most farmers are not happy with their roads, or with their government in managing these roads. One farmer told me that they pay taxes based on their land size. All of those taxes go to the government. A local consortium comprised of local citizens then gets 55% of those taxes to manage the roads. The remaining 45% is gone. . . or at least it appears to be gone. The citizens use the 55% to purchase equipment, operate equipment and maintain the roads as best as possible.

Almost all of the back roads are dirt. Gravel is a rare commodity. I am not a civil engineer, but I wonder what just a little gravel on the surface good do. However, if 45% of your money for roads disappears, can you afford to purchase gravel?

Farmers in the States are used to rain keeping them out of the fields at harvest, but they are not used to rain keeping them off the roads. (Of course, I am writing this as many places in Kentucky are under water from heavy rains.)

Because of these roads, many farmers and their families live in towns. Better schools, consistent electricity and access to goods, services, etc. are all good reasons for living in town. About the only people I have witnessed living on the farm have direct access to paved roads and/or do not have children.

With 30% retention on soybean, 20+% retention on corn and a 45% "disappearance" of the road tax and a 21% sales tax, I can understand how a producer may not want to invest any more in the roads. . . or in much of anything related to public services.

In addition to this, there are not as many grain bins and grain elevators as in the States. Also, there are almost no railroads.












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