Argentine drought hits farmers hard, undermining economy

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Argentine drought hits farmers hard, undermining economy
In this March 23, 2018 photo, a farmer shows underdeveloped soybeans affected by the drought near Pergamino, Argentina. The estimate for the soy harvest has dropped 31 percent from the 2016-17 season. (AP Photo/Sebastian Pani)

PERGAMINO, Argentina (AP) — A harsh drought in Argentina that began in November is causing big losses, reduced expectations of economic growth and growing concern among farmers, government officials and experts.

Farming is the Argentine economy’s main engine and the drought has been a big blow to the world’s third-biggest exporter of soy and corn.

President Mauricio Macri had been counting on a near-record soy crop this year to boost economic growth to 3.5 percent in 2018. Instead, what is expected to be the poorest harvest in at least a decade has already cut growth forecasts by up to a percentage point.

High inflation already was eroding Argentines’ purchasing power and many are growing increasingly frustrated with rises in fuel and transportation costs.