A producer is defined in this study as the first to market the agricultural product. The producer is not necessarily the farmer who cultivates the land.
The two main producer associations are the Asociación Argentina de Consorcios Regionales de Experimentación Agropecuaria (AACREA) and the Asociación Argentina de Productores de Siembra Directa (AAPRESID). They comprise a network of regional associations, for example 17 in AACREA. Among other activities, they carry out group negotiations for the acquisition of inputs.
In recent years, the government sector has promoted associations through the Cambio Rural project, managed by INTA. The members of Cambio Rural are medium and small agricultural producers, while most members of the previously mentioned organizations are the larger producers. Cambio Rural puts emphasis on the management and acquisition of management tools and strongly promotes the group purchase of inputs.
These are non-profit associations of individual producers whose aim is to market in common their individual production. They undertake operations that would not be viable at the level of the individual producer. Their objectives and the services they offer do not differ significantly from those of the merchants, including transport. The cooperatives are federated into regional organizations that, unlike the merchants, are involved in secondary negotiations. In turn these are grouped into a third level organization, the Asociación de Cooperativas Argentinas (ACA) which is a cereal exporter of national importance, a large distributor and wholesaler and which imports fertilizers and distributes them to associated cooperatives.
A special form of association is the sowing pool (pooles de siembra). These are speculative investment funds. They provide financial management, commercial and agronomic, for the large-scale production of cereals. They contract land to third parties with a mix of crops and regions in order to have geographical diversification and reduce the climatic and price risks. The aim is to give the investor returns that are superior to those of other financial options. This movement developed rapidly during the period of high prices in 1996 and 1997, when some twenty administrations, each with a production of between 10 000 and 50 000 ha, were established. On the scale at which it operated, the acquisition of inputs such as fertilizers could be effected at the wholesaler level.
This development created a large speculative bubble, with the price of land increasing to levels that could not be maintained at the lower prices observed since 1998 (Secondi, 1998). However, more recently, following the devaluation of 2001 and the banking crisis, the low opportunity cost of capital and an increase in the prices of some cereals, have initiated a new cycle, whose most obvious sign is the strong demand for land and the high rental prices.