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Argentina grain export dollars rose to hit $3.4 bln in August

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Argentina grains exports brought in some $3.4 billion in August, a 5% increase from July, an industry group said on Thursday, as the South American country tries to boost the flow of foreign currency to rebuild depleted central bank reserves.

The combined oilseed industry and grains export chambers CIARA-CEC said that the value of dollars from farm exports rose 11% year-on-year in the month to what it called a "historic record", hitting $25.7 billion for the year.

Argentina's central bank requires grains exporters to convert earnings in dollars to the local peso currency.

The South American country has strict currency controls to preserve scarce reserves, though analysts say the economy ministry is evaluating a specific exchange mechanism for the farm sector to encourage the liquidation of dollars.

Argentina is the top global exporter of processed soy oil and meal, the no. 3 for corn and a major producer of wheat. Soy farmers have, however, been selling their crops more slowly than previous years due to fears over a peso devaluation.

CIARA-CEC pointed out that "grain exports have been affected by negative weather effects on the bulk harvest, as well as the effects of a volatile macroeconomy and exchange market."

"This has deepened the idle capacity of the soybean crushing industry, which continues to work with negative margins even in the middle of the harvest season and which is leading to production shutdowns," it said. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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