March 4, 2009

Venezuela’s Chavez grabs Cargill’s rice

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday he was nationalizing the rice operations of U.S. agriculture giant Cargill Inc.

Prepare a decree and let's expropriate Cargill, Chavez told Agriculture Minister Elias Jaua after a meeting of his Cabinet.

The leftist leader also indicated he stood ready to take over his country's largest private company, Polar, a beer and food manufacturer, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Get the decrees ready, one after the other, Chavez said.

Chavez's moves come as Venezuela's citizens endure shortages of rice, milk and other staples under his price-controlled economy, the newspaper said.

Chavez also has ordered the Venezuelan army to take over other rice mills belonging to Venezuelan companies, and ordered producers to devote at least 70 percent of their production to price-regulated products.