Recent flooding in Argentina has impacted a substantial amount of the country’s agriculture and cattle raising sectors in recent months. According to a report from the Confederation of Rural Associations of Buenos Aires and La Pampa (Carbap), almost 22 million hectares (or 220,000 square kilometers) of land have flooded.
The Carbap says that the affected areas are the entire basin of the Salado River, from the mouth of the Samborombón bay, extended to the zones of La Pampa, the south of Córdoba and the west of Buenos Aires. In total, the report estimates that 26 percent of the entire country is currently flooded, but those numbers vary by province. The province of Buenos Aires is worst off with 28 percent of its land flooded; only 12 percent of the province of Córdoba is flooded.
Argentina has been receiving an unusual amount of rain. Between July 15 and August 15, many areas received between 100 and 200 millimeters of rain. During the second week of August, rain measured 75 millimeters, an unusual measurement for this time of the winter. The usual amount of rain for this time of year ranges between 25 and 75 millimeters.
The livestock industry is without a doubt suffering due to the floods. Carbap’s report estimates that 63 percent of the industry in the province of Buenos Aires will be impacted negatively. As a result, the province has declared a state of emergency in the areas of General Arenales, Lincoln, Daireaux, Guaminí, Bolívar, General Pinto, Hipólito Yrigoyen, General Villegas, Junín, Rivadavia y Pellegrini. La Pampa also declared a state of emergency in parts of Quemú-Quemú, the entirety of Catriló and part of the Capital department.
However, some experts do not place the blame entirely on natural events. “The critical flood situation that many productive zones in the center of the country are suffering is not only a consequence of excessive rain in recent month, it is also a result of decades of apathetic policy and the lack of water works that would have helped to stem the terrible effects of the water with incalculable losses in the millions,” said Dario Guardado, an expert in agriculture and livestock.
Greenpeace Argentina released a statement describing the relationship between flooding in Argentina, deforestation, and global climate change. The environmental NGO tied deforestation in Argentina to the increased probability of flooding. Hernán Giardini, the leader of Greenpeace’s campaign for the protection of forests, argued in April that “deforestation decreases biodiversity, displacement of farmers and indigenous people, generates climate change, and makes us more vulnerable to negative environmental impacts. One hectare of forest absorbs ten times more precipitation than a hectare with soybeans. More deforestation will create more flooding.”
As farmers recover from the intense flooding, the government says it will be searching for ways to return the agriculture and livestock sector to productivity. According to Greenpeace and many other experts, that may require new policies to stem climate change and deforestation.