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Chavez May Seize Farms, Plants to Boost Food Output

18 June 2007

VENEZUELA - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the government may take control of more private farms and food plants to increase production of beef and milk amid shortages.

Chavez asked government and military officials to help expose milk and beef companies that refuse to sell at regulated prices, and said the government will expropriate them, in comments broadcast by state-run Venezolana de Television.

``Where there's a large land holding, the agricultural revolution is coming,'' he said. ``This is going to require a new attitude from producers.''

In March, Chavez said he would take control of 16 large, privately owned land holdings he considered unused to raise cattle, part of his plan to implement socialist policies in the South American country. This year the government has nationalized the country's biggest telephone company and an electric utility, and taken control of heavy oil production projects.

The government is promoting socialist farming cooperatives to boost domestic production and secure Venezuela's food supply, Chavez said. He signed a decree today creating a state cattle- ranching company to help reduce the deficit in milk and beef production.

The government will also create a central planning commission to oversee all government-owned companies, doing away with autonomous management by individual company heads, Chavez said.

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Source: Bloomberg


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