Sinaloa Governor Blames Business for Mexico’s Corn Pricing Crisis
By KELIN DILLON
In the midst of an ongoing protest by Sinaloa farmers in demand of increased pay for their corn harvests, Sinaloa Governor Rubén Rocha proposed the state’s agricultural workers take their protests to the facilities of the nation’s major corn processing companies, such as Minsa, Gruma and Cargill, sparking debate over who is at fault for the corn crisis: private enterprises, or the Mexican federal government.
An excess of corn supply and low demand has plummeted the price of corn from over 7,000 pesos per ton in 2022 to approximately 5,000 pesos in 2023, a year-over-year decrease of nearly 29 percent.
The country’s corn pricing crisis has caused Mexico’s corn producers to demand the federal government, led by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), to buy any of the farmers’ product leftover from deals with private companies, as well as expand its guaranteed corn pricing program.
While the government previously agreed to purchase one million tons of leftover corn product at 6,965 pesos per ton, said deal only included small producers that only grow up to 10 hectares of corn product, leaving many of the nation’s larger farmers out of the deal.
The issue has only been exacerbated by López Obrador’s recent decision to end Mexico’s two-decades old Financiera Rural program, which offered flexible financing loans for agricultural producers of all sizes, essentially ending contract farming in the country and eliminating Mexican farmers’ guaranteed profits through set target incomes.
The Sinaloa farmers, along with agricultural workers from 10 other Mexican states, subsequently began blocking roads across the country in demonstration against the government’s payments for their corn protects, culminating in the protest’s takeover of Sinaloa’s Culiacán airport on Tuesday, June 13, which was eventually lifted on Thursday, June 15.
However, despite the government’s role in the agricultural sector’s corn crisis, Rocha’s call to his farming constituents to turn their protests toward Minsa, Gruma and Cargill – who refused to reach a deal with the government to increase corn prices, claiming it would trickle down into the consumer price of tortillas and other corn-derived foods – has instead turned the blame away from the state and toward private enterprise.
“I invite you to go together to protest against those who are truly responsible for the waste of your crops: Gruma, Cargill and Minsa. I am your ally and side by side with you, I will demand fair treatment and a fair price for your work,” wrote Rocha on his public twitter account.
Rocha notably belongs to AMLO’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena), the in-power party presently at an impasse with Mexico’s corn farmers. Opposition politicians have since criticized Rocha’s words as a distraction from the agricultural sector’s ongoing issue with the government and have redirected blame back toward the state.
“By eliminating contract farming and stopping buying coverage, the federal government has abandoned its farmers and now, it wants to pass the responsibility on to the businessmen,” said Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Deputy Ildefonso Guajardo. “And that is how they overtake the agri-food sufficiency of Mexicans.”