Sunday, January 9, 2011


Martin and Raul Fosatti have hosted our group at their ranch, Don Poncho, near Santa Rosa for the last several years and visiting them is a great experience as it is always interesting to see what the Fosatti Brothers have been doing over the last year to improve their operation.

On our first visit to Santa Rosa in 2007, the Fosatti´s had just broke ground on a cooperative packing plant they had organized with some CREA members and other investors to capitalize on the ability to export beef directly to Europe. It has been incredible to watch over the last 5 years the plant open and begin running cattle through it.

This year however, brought a new twist to the saga of the Fosatti Brothers. After 5+ years of drought in La Pampa, they decided to rent 3 tracts of ground in BsAs province a couple hours south of the city. Most of this region is difficult to farm for row crops because it had very clayey soils, no slope, and high salinity. Therefore, they can run cattle on it pretty reasonably. So, all of the cows at Don Pancho are now in BsAs and all of the calves are trucked back to Don Poncho to be backgrounded and finished before they go to slaughter.

I have quizzed Martin and Raul relentlessly over the last several years about where they see Argentina´s beef industry going. Although they can´t say for sure because it is so heavily controlled by government intervention, the one thing they are certain about is that cattle can no longer be finished on grass, frame size and meat yield will have to increase, and cow numbers will continue to decline as the soybean revolution continues to march its way across the Pampas.

Seems that the the US and Argentina have more in common than we thought.

Thank you and have a great day!!

This Week In Argentina

Greetings from Argentina, this first week has really gone fast and has kind of gotten away from me with all of the great tours we have had.

We got into Buenos Aires last Monday with no problems and the students had a good time exploring the downtown area of the city. We went on a city tour in the afternoon and learned a little history of the town and what it is like to live in BsAs today. For a city of 14 million people, we sure were made to feel welcome and I think the kids really enjoyed being immersed in a culture very different from their own. It is always fun to watch them try to communicate with someone in spanish for the first few times, but now most of them can easily have a conversation with anyone. A lot of it is just getting over that initial fear of trying to piece a few spanish words together and using a lot of hand signals to get the point across.

On Tuesday we visited Mercado de Liniers, the largest livestock auction in the world. The numbers were down quite a bit this year from the last several years. When I was there in 2008 they were selling 12,000 head per day and this year was averaging just over 8,000 head per day. They have 4 auctions a week so that is quite a bit of cattle. The quality of cattle this year was quite a bit better than the quality I´ve seen there in the last couple of years. mostly because they have come out of a 5 year drought in BsAs and La Pampa provinces.

In the afternoon we visited the headquarters of CREA, the organization that visited South Dakota in August. They are a pretty amazing group that is really expanding in popularity amongst Argentine farmers and ranchers, as well as in other countries. Just in the last year, CREA has expanded into Paraguay and Bolivia. CREA gave us a good explanation of how the group works and talked at length of how the soybean revolution is quickly changing Argentine agriculture. I have seen this with my own eyes as the amount of grass and cattle in the country has all but disappeared and have been replaced with soy. This is the reason CREA came to SD in August, to learn more about feeding cattle in feedlots rather than grazing them on pastures. They have recognized that there isn´t much future for grass fed beef in Argentina.

In the next post, I´ll recount our visit with Martin and Raul Fosatti at the ranch near Olivarria, BsAs.

Thank you and have a great day!!