Friday, August 6, 2010

CREA Argentina

Every year, I take a group of students from SDSU down to Argentina so they can gets some international agriculture exposure before they graduate and go into the workforce. Most employers in corporate ag industry these days really frown upon students that went through four years of college and never received any international training. I'm sure this is a reflection of our global aconomic environment more than anything, but it is interesting none-the-less.

In any event, over the years, I have been fortunate enough to develop some really good relationships with ranchers, farmers, cattle feeders, etc. in Argentina. As a result of these relationships, they asked me last year if I would put together a feedlot tour of South Dakota for them if they came to the US. Of course I said I would and sure enough, Monday and Tuesday this week I hosted 22 ranchers from the province of LaPampa on a tour of SD feedlots.

Now you might ask yourself, why do a bunch of guys from LaPampa, the grass cattle capital of the world want to look at feedlots? Well, the days of endless hectares of grass and millions of grass fed cattle in the Pampas are quickly drawing to a close thanks to our friends at Monsanto, DuPont, etc. With drought resistant and RR crops, most of the eastern Pampas is being plowed under and planted to soybeans. Cattle, even in Argentina can simply not compete with soy.

As a result, much like in the US in the 60's, the Argentine beef industry is reluctantly facing the fact that cattle are going to have to be finished on corn in feedlots if they want to eat beef. Otherwise, beef cattle will simply disappear in a sea of soybeans and government incentives.

Only about 4% of cattle in the country are currently finished on corn, but when I started going to Argetnina it was about 0.05% and in the next year or so it will probably be around 8%. So the number is roughly doubling every year.

The CREA group that visited this last week is a group of the most progressive producers in the country and they want to lead the charge into developing a cattle feeding industry. CREA is an acronym for Regional Consortium of Agricultural Experimentation. This group works collectively to help each other learn how to improve their operations through information sharing between families and ultimately through other CREA groups in the country.

Over the next few days I'll tell you a little about what we did on the tour and what the reaction of the group was to their visit in South Dakota, but for now I'll just tell you they had a wonderful time, were very impressed with the people they met here in SD, and went home hoping some of their US counterparts would be willing to come visit thier operations in Argentina.

I think we can probably arrange that.

Thank you and have a great day!!

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