Port workers and major grain and oilseed exporters in Argentina reached a deal last week to end the widespread strike that has blocked agricultural exports in recent days.

"An agreement has been reached despite the hard-line stances by both sides," says Hugo Moyano, a prominent trucking union leader who worked with port workers, government and business officials to help broker the deal.

Word of the deal helped send 2009 crop soybean futures contracts on Chicago Board of Trade plunging March 31.

The strike, which started the last full week of March, had brought Argentina’s soybean exports to a virtual halt, spurring concerns about near-term supplies. Port workers began blocking access to two port complexes near Rosario, Argentina’s main export hub, but on March 29, the protests were widened to cover nearly all port complexes in the area.

Truck drivers who were frustrated over the strike, which had thousands of rigs lined up outside of ports, also started their own protests on Monday.

Port workers reportedly settled for a 27% salary hike for 2010 in dollar terms. Port workers in Santa Fe Province had demanded a 30% wage increase as measured in U.S. dollars, an official at the province's Production Ministry told Dow Jones Newswires. While companies employing the workers had offered a 25% salary increase as measured in Argentine pesos, the official said.

Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.