A wage strike by Argentine tugboat captains forced more than 100 grains ships to drop anchor along the Parana River on Monday, preventing the loading of freshly harvested corn and soy, a local industry official said.
The work stoppage affected grains terminals in Timbues, Puerto General San Martín and San Lorenzo, all just north of Argentina’s main port of Rosario, said Guillermo Wade, president of the country’s Port and Maritime Activities Chamber.
“We are very concerned,” Wade told Reuters, referring to the backup of cargo ships waiting to take on corn, soy and related products at the end of harvesting for the 2013/14 crop year.
Argentina is a major exporter of corn and the No. 1 supplier of soymeal livestock feed used around the world.
Tug captains, needed to guide cargo ships into port, walked off the job on Saturday to press for a hike in wages that would offset the South American country’s high inflation rate.
Private economists say the rate may exceed 30 percent in 2014, compared with about 25 percent last year.
Official data released last month showed inflation slowed for a fifth consecutive month in June, but still stood at 15 percent since the start of the year, one of the highest rates in the world.
Farmers on the Argentine Pampas ere expected to harvest 54 million tonnes of soybean this year and 26 million tonnes of corn, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Argentine government sees a soy take of 53 million tonnes this year and a 33-million-tonne corn harvest.