Venezuela Occupies Cargill Plant

Plant didn't meet production quotas says the vice minister for nourishment

Venezuela's government intervened on May 15 in a pasta plant owned by Cargill for its failure to meet production quotas set by the state.

Rafael Coronado, the vice minister for nourishment, said the government "occupation" would last 90 days and was aimed at "guaranteeing the security of Venezuelans' food supply."

"The duty of the private companies and the state is to deliver to the population a high quality product at a fair price," he said.

Coronado occupied the plant in the north central state of Vargas with activists and officials from a state consumer protection agency in an event carried by the official television channel.

The government, which has set prices and production quotes for staples since 2003, in March ordered Cargill to set aside 70% of its production at the pasta plant for sales at low regulated prices. The same month, President Hugo Chavez began expropriation proceedings against a Cargill rice processing plant because it allegedly failed to produce enough rice at regulated prices.

The Chavez government has intervened in other food processing plants in recent months in an effort to raise supplies of food sold at regulated prices.

But food prices spiked 41.3% last year, surpassing the overall price index, which rose 30.9%, the biggest increase in Latin America.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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