In Macri’s Sputtering Argentina, Best Bet Is Being a Farmer

The best job in Argentina right now is farming.

Thanks to friendly government policies, booming harvests and a surge of cheap credit, the nation’s crop growers are thriving. That’s making agriculture an outlier as labor unions besiege President Mauricio Macri with wage demands and strikes, inflation proves tough to tame and car manufacturers lay off workers.

As Argentina’s broader economy continues to sputter, farmers are rebounding after years of feuding with the previous administration of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Macri lifted or slashed crop and beef export taxes when he took office in December 2015 and also cut red tape for shipments, propelling agricultural investment. That investment is now starting to reach full throttle, spurred by loans that aren’t as cheap for other industries.

State-run Banco de la Nacion Argentina unveiled a line of peso loans to farmers last week with an annual interest rate of 10.5 percent to 11.5 percent. That compares with 17 percent for the loans advertised to small-and-medium-sized businesses in other sectors on the Argentine websites of Banco Santader Rio SA, BBVA Banco Frances SA and HSBC Bank Argentina SA.

“We believe in Macri,” said Jorge Scoppa, the president of the Argentine Federation of Agricultural Machinery Contractors based in Casilda, Santa Fe province. “The loans give us margin to buy equipment. Farmers are motivated.”

Room for Credit
Argentines take fewer loans than regional neighbors.

In Argentina — beset by double-digit inflation and still living in the shadow of a crippling default about 15 years ago — most people don’t take loans. The country’s ratio of private-sector credit to…