Subect 1: Pedro Peretti
Role: Executive Director of FAA
Subect 2: Gabriel Delgado
Role: former Secretary of Agriculture
Place: Buenos Aires
Date: April 14, 2015
See Citation 5.
[11:00] Authors: “If you make a commercialization lockout, does it affect the consumer?”
Peretti: “Not in the case of soybeans. The 97 percent is exported and the 3 percent is seed. It’s minimal. There is no effect on the consumer. Not always all the producers join. Every sector is discussed. In the case of milk, there is always a discussion because it’s perishable. The meat is discussed. The chambers, moreover, have fifteen, twenty days of reserved stock that reduce the effect on consumers, so that there is no shortage of basic staples. The main effect is on exports, and there are ships docked in the port that pay fortunes for being parked without cargo. This has an effect. We had more than eighty stopped ships in the port of Rosario in 2008 and that was an important element that alerts the people…the owners of the ship. But the price is defined by the Chicago stock exchange so it doesn’t affect the producers but the trader.
Authors: “How do you decide a protest in FAA?”
Peretti: “FAA has many mechanisms, a central executive committee, and regional assemblies. In general, the protest originates in the regional assemblies. In some occasions, when I was the executive director of FAA, and the central executive decided on an action, it consulted the bases. That was a two-way mechanism. When the people from below starts to mobilize, we do what we call district meetings as we call it, using our own districts, south of Santa Fe-north of Buenos Aires, south of Cordoba, north of Cordoba, La Pampa, Chaco-Formosa, Mesopotamia, etc. That’s how the process starts. In 2008, it was different, many of us were Kirchneristas. The majority of the FAA was Kirchneristas. We all had voted Cristina. Now’s different. In my roadblock all had voted for Cristina. We were coming of four excellent years. Yet, we had a debate with our friends in the Kirchnerism. The FAA had a group of government officials that we consult, such as Rafael Bielsa, the daughter of Cardozo, with Depetri, with Luis D’Elia, all different officials from diverse areas. We consult with them to avoid hurting the government with a positive human right policy. The leadership of Buzzi [Eduardo Buzzi, president of the FAA at the time of the 2008 tax revolt] was center-left. In 2004, we had made a land conference, which included Eduardo Luis Duhalde, Tummini who was Kirchnerista back then but not now, the Secretary of Agriculture who was Javier de Urquiza. We were complaining that the agriculture area of the government was dominated by a ‘ruralista’ view in that moment and they didn’t pay attention to family agriculture and small ownership agriculture. It was a difficult situation for the government, which had to put out fires, and the agriculture sector, which was benefited by good international prices and was doing very well was not paid attention to [17:01] … [22:13] in the FAA there were two positions during the  conflict. One was our position that now is called the Cry of Alcorta but in that moment there was Buzzi as well and we supported differential public policy. You cannot treat in the same way those who are structurally different. We are against flat policies or universal policies. We believe in positive discrimination in function of size, volume, etc., it’s all explained here. It was the left-wing sector, but it was not necessarily left-wing, it was the sector who defended our historical position. And there was another sector led by de Angeli [Alfredo de Angeli, an important rural activist from the FAA in Entre Ríos who became Senator for a center-right party] which demanded to return to March 11th [before the tax rate] because all producers were the same and we disagree [26:43]…[27:20] the differences were visible on the discussion for the nationalization of private pension funds. We supported it publicly and the other sector led by de Angeli opposed. This originated a debate and Buzzi was very good because he showed how we had always opposed the privatization and explained to the press how it was.”
Authors: “Does this debate percolate to the bases?”
Peretti: “Yes, it does. de Angeli is very popular. Buzzi was more part of the machine, he was never taken seriously as a producer because he was a high school teacher, not a real producer.”
Authors: “But was reelected many times?”
Peretti: “How was elected is another topic, because it’s a system that if you put tomorrow the Plim-Plim clown and he can win all the elections because the machine works very well. It’s impossible to defeat the incumbent and I have been many years and I know how the process goes. de Angeli couldn’t win an election in FAA even though in all our internal surveys he had the 70 or 80 percent of popularity, much higher than Buzzi. Yet, when you go to the Congress that had more than 200 fake local affiliates organized from the center, Buzzi bet de Angeli in the elections. When I was a candidate to president, we look for certificates, photocopies, everything to show the fraud orchestrated by Buzzi in that moment as an incumbent” [30:24] …
[40:41] Authors: “How is the relationship between rural organizations at the local level?”
Peretti: “The relationship at the local level is good but we represent different interests. There is a reason we have four different organizations; it’s because each of them represents producers of different sizes. The Rural Society represent the large landowners, CRA represents the medium-size ones and FAA represents the small and medium farmers and the peasant organizations which represent the peasants.”
Author: “And the cooperatives? CONINAGRO?”
Peretti: “That’s an instrument of commercialization, not representation. CONIAGRO emerges as a representative organization in the 1950s but CONINAGRO in general worked with FAA because they represent the same producer, but it’s not a real representative organization. The real representative organization are three, or four, as I told you. The landowners are not really popular in the towns, they don’t like them in the town or are not well appreciated, for envy or other things, they are not appreciated in the town. They were part of the conservative elites who governed with the military coups and conservative governments. The small or medium farmers are Radicals or Peronists” [42:50].
[11:45] González: “The FAA is the organization that mobilizes the most and that’s most active in the roadblocks. The small and medium farmers, sharecroppers and service providers are the crucial core. The FAA has presidents of long duration, from the onset until Buzzi who was there for sixteen years. All leaders that are in power for so long generate personalized structures they can control because nobody can grow under their shadow. They generate structures they can dominate. He changed. He was close to the government in the first administration of Kirchner [13:00] … [13:23] even though he was close to Kirchner, in 2008, the pressure from the bases forces him to join the other rural organizations in the Coordinating Committee [13:33] … [17:00] I am in the opposition faction of the FAA [to the incumbent Kirchnerista faction]. The FAA lost its funding because it lost the monopoly over bills of landing and other sources of support from the government and when it opposed the government, it was punished by eliminating these. The government granted both subsidies and functions that provided resources, such as the bills of landing, and thus it’s financially strangled. [18:00] … [18:22] Argentine producers don’t like to pay dues of the FAA, or local rural society, even if it’s a small due and if they make a lot of money. It’s a problem of representation [18:52] … [19:01] The FAA had made agreements with the government, Príncipe, and his wife who comes from the technocracy and had worked with D’Elia in Lands and Housing [a secretary administering land grants and project housings] and ideologically is akin to the Communist Party. Príncipe felt in love with her and abandoned his wife and then he and other people have the leadership of FAA and re-directs the FAA and the subsidies they receive towards family agriculture. The government never really controlled family agriculture but in Argentina is different from the rest of Latin America in regards to family agriculture. Because in Argentina, the family agriculture includes small and medium producers of 50, 100, 200 hectares and not only producers of food, such as vegetables or fruit and some wine, but instead is dependent on agriculture and cattle and based on immigration. In other Latin American countries, they don’t have it. They work for food sovereignty [20:11] … [21:11] in our definition it’s the man who works the land with his family [21:28] … [21:45] we have three family agricultures: the subsistence for self-consumption, the intermediate who also has another source of income, and the entrepreneurial one with even a few employees along with family help. This last one is the one that was destroyed in the 1990s by Menem and thousands more in the Kirchnerism due to the concentration of land production. [24:49] … [24:08] the subject of FAA changed because the current leadership uses the regional economies that are in crisis due to the appreciation of the currency that strangles them, but hopes that the populist government gives them subsidies. This is a business to get votes, through the National Registry of Family Agriculture for which the government had assigned a good chunk of funding for them, the government pay by member and that’s a way of getting funding for FAA with public money paid for agriculture producer/peasant. It’s a roll of small farmers for the government.” [26:03]