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331644

Argentina's latest economy chief announces new agriculture pick

By Nicolás Misculin

BUENOS AIRES, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Argentina's incoming economy minister, dubbed a "superminister" due to his expanded portfolio, announced new secretary picks including for the key farm sector on Tuesday, part of the government's latest bid to reign in a severe economic crisis.

President Alberto Fernandez tasked congressional leader Sergio Massa with taming surging inflation, government spending as well as addressing a range of tax and trade policies crucial to the country's powerhouse agricultural sector ahead of elections next year.

A politically savvy lawyer backed by the ruling Peronist coalition's center-left as well as its more hard-line leftist faction, Massa is expected to advocate orthodox economic policies in part due to his past track record working closely with international investors.

On Tuesday, he announced that Juan Bahillo will be the new agriculture secretary, reporting to Massa. Bahillo is a political leader, former federal lawmaker and rural farmer from Entre Rios province.

At least one sector leader voiced support for Bahillo.

"We hope that he is allowed to perform and take the decisions that our farm sector needs to take off," said Carlos Achetoni, president of the FAA agricultural association.

Massa also resigned his lawmaker post on Tuesday, ahead of formally taking over as economy minister on Wednesday, which will make him the third such minister in just the last month.

He also announced that the production secretary will be helmed by industrial leader Jose de Mendiguren, while the trade secretariat will be led by economist Matias Tombolini. Both will also report to Massa.

Fernandez is betting on the new Massa-led team to provide a so far elusive financial stability, as well as quell a worsening price spiral that is expected to surpass 70% this year.

South America's second-biggest economy has already seen its poverty rate rise to about 40%. (Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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