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Forecast podcast: Third year of drought threatens key crops in Argentina

Satellite image of wildfires in Argentina back in February 2022

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Jeff Landset discuss the drought affecting Argentina’s heartland, plus more on parliamentary elections in Tunisia, primary elections in Paraguay, the World Cup final and an immigration policy set to end in the United States.

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This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Jimmy Lovaas, Irene Villora, David Wyllie, Joe Veyera, Jaime Calle Moreno, and Jeff Landset.  Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Note: With the holidays and the New Year coming up, the podcast will be off for a couple of weeks. Our next podcast will be out January 5th

In the meantime, be sure to follow us on Twitter where we’ll still be posting breaking news.     

Have feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed? Drop us a note:

Factal Forecast podcast transcript


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is Dec. 15

In this week’s forecast we’ve got elections in both Tunisia and Paraguay, the World Cup final, an immigration policy set to expire in the United States and a look at the drought in Argentina.

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.

Tunisia parliamentary election

Information compiled by Jimmy Lovaas

JIMMY: Tunisia will hold parliamentary elections on Saturday. That, despite the opposition calling it undemocratic.

The election comes by way of a new constitution that was passed in July by a referendum. 

That was a move that many say consolidates power into President Kais Saied’s hands. 

Hundreds have recently protested the upcoming election, calling the vote illegitimate. Multiple political parties and opposition groups have promised to boycott it. 

Now, Tunisia is where the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings began, and the country’s “Jasmine Revolution” led to significant democratization. 

If Saturday’s election, which is expected to see low turnout, brings more Saied loyalists into the fold, it could mark the latest step in the president’s consolidation of power. It could also be another sign Tunisia is sliding back into authoritarianism.

Paraguay primaries

Information compiled by Irene Villora

JIMMY: Paraguay will hold a primary election on Sunday. Political parties will choose their candidates for the April 2023 general election. 

A total of 43 parties and movements are holding their primaries simultaneously. 

The list of candidates includes renowned politicians, including several former ministers, current president Mario Abdo Benítez and his predecessor Horacio Cartes. 

Now, more than 4.8 million party members and affiliates will elect both presidential and vice presidential candidates for the upcoming general election, as well as senators, deputies, governors and department heads. 

As for logistics, more than 11,140 polling stations will be set up around the country. 

What’s more, voter capacity at each polling station had to be increased after a fire at the Supreme Electoral Court destroyed more than 7,000 electronic voting machines and killed one person in late September.

World Cup final

Information compiled by David Wyllie and Joe Veyera

JIMMY: Argentina will face France in the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Sunday. It will take place at Qatar’s Lusail Stadium, as the first tournament held in the Middle East comes to a close.

Argentina reached the final after a shaky start that included a loss to Saudi Arabia during group play. That was considered one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. But they rebounded with wins over the Netherlands and Croatia. 

Meanwhile, France will try to become the first side since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back World Cups after knocking off Morocco in the semi-finals.

Now, the winning team will lift the World Cup trophy in front of a sport’s largest global audience, and large-scale celebrations can be expected regardless of the champion. 

Whoever wins, their title reign will be shorter than usual as the next World Cup will be held across 16 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico in summer of 2026.

Deadline to end Title 42 on border expulsions of migrants

Information compiled by Jaime Calle Moreno

JIMMY: The United State’s Title 42 immigration policy is set to end on Wednesday.

Title 42 was first used by former President Donald Trump’s administration during the coronavirus pandemic. 

It allows the government to turn away asylum seekers on the U.S.-Mexico border by citing health care concerns. 

While immigration and human rights advocates have criticized the use of the rule, current President Joe Biden has continued using the law to stabilize the growing influx of migration. 

In mid-November, a federal judge said Title 42’s usage for immigration concerns was “arbitrary and capricious” and accepted a five-week delay in striking it down in order to prepare for the expected increases.

Now, the end of border expulsions will set off a domino effect, and will inevitably challenge the U.S. government in facing its legal immigration policy and rhetoric once again. 

What’s more, with the number of undocumented crossings at the border already near record highs, at an average of 7,500 per day, these numbers could rise significantly with the lifting of Title 42.

And that has some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle scrambling to reach an immigration deal before Republicans take control of the House in January. 

Drought in Argentina

Information compiled by Jeff Landset

JIMMY: Our last item for this forecast is on the drought in Argentina. For more on that I spoke with fellow editor Jeff Landset.

JIMMY: Hello, Jeff. 

JEFF: Hi, Jimmy. 

JIMMY: You know, Jeff, Argentina has been in the news a lot lately, but that’s mostly because they’re just a few days away from playing in the World Cup final. You’re here today to tell us about the other big news in Argentina. What do you got for us?

JEFF: Yeah, so talking about the drought, and not necessarily the World Cup drought for them, this is actually the third consecutive year of dry conditions for Argentina’s heartland. It has led to some of the worst farming in generations. We’ve heard from some farmers in their 70s or 80s who say they can’t remember anything like this. And then, you know, this year is said to be the most damaging so far. 

JIMMY: Are droughts a common problem in Argentina? Is there something making conditions worse this year? 

JEFF: Yeah, it’s not unheard of, but this year and the past few years have been due to the ongoing La Niña weather phenomenon that brings drier weather and cooler temperatures to South America.

JIMMY: What are some of the issues you’re seeing from the drought?

JEFF: So the drought – outside of not providing enough food – it’s exacerbated some of the economic issues for these farmers. They are dealing with high export levies

JIMMY: And, sorry, not to interrupt, but they’re kind of a big deal in agriculture, right? 

JEFF: Argentina is the world’s top exporter of processed soy oil and meal and the number three for corn. And so now corn planting has progressed at its slowest pace in six years. Argentina also accounts for a large portion of the world’s wheat exports, so the lack of wheat could cost the country billions of dollars.

JIMMY: Well, besides just hoping for rain, what else do you think folks should be watching for?

JEFF: So this comes at probably the worst possible time when the world needs more wheat than ever because of the grain that’s been lost because of the war in Ukraine. The scarcity of wheat worldwide will actually increase prices globally more than likely, so that is something to keep an eye on when you go to the grocery store.

JIMMY: Well, I think we’ll leave it there for today. Thank you for your time. Appreciate you catching us up to speed. 

JEFF: No problem. 

JIMMY: Take care.

JIMMY: One final note for you, with the holiday and the New Year coming up, the podcast will be off for a couple of weeks. So our next podcast will be out January 4th. 

In the meantime, be sure to follow us on Twitter where we’ll still be posting breaking news.     

And as always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Irene Villora, David Wyllie, Jaime Calle Moreno and me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our interview featured editor Jeff Landset and our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. 

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2022 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Top photo: A wildfire burns in Argentina’s Iberá National Park in February 2022 amid a record-setting heatwave and ongoing drought. More than 1,000 fires burned earlier this year in the country’s northeast, ravaging farmland and killing wildlife. (Photo: NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey)

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