Study Abroad; Argentina

It's been a few weeks since I returned home from my first adventure abroad but the memories have not faded. 

Pink House

 I learned so much from my trip to Argentina.  It's hard to share everything I've learned after 9 days of tours and visits to various places and businesses.  Below is a break down of each day, follow the links and enjoy!

Day 1/2) Arrive in Buenos Aires

Day 1) US Embassy; Buenos Aires

Day 1) Cargill Headquarters Presentation; Buenos Aires

Day 2) Buenos Aires City Tour

Day 2) Tango Show; Buenos Aires

Day 3) Gaucho Ranch

Day 4) Liniers Cattle Market; Buenos Aires

Day 4) Cargill Inc; Villa Governador Galvez

Day 4) Dinner at Rizobacter Test Plots; Pergamino

Day 5) Rizobacter Business Tour; Pergamino

Day 5) National Institute of Agriculture Technology (INTA); Pergamino 

Day 6) Pagano South America Business Tour; Carlos Casares

Day 6) Zubeldia Manufacturer; Carlos Casares

Day 6) Roberto Lence Dairy Farm; Carlos Casares

Day 6) Orazi Feedlot and Pork Producer; Carlos Casares

Day 6) Dinner at Lence Farm; Carlos Casares

Day 7) Los Grobos Agribusiness Cooperation; Carlos Casares

Day 7) Raul Cardaci Farm Tour; Carlos Casares

Day 7) Duckas SRL Hay and Silage Producation; Carlos Casares

Day 8) Arrive at Iguazu Falls

Day 9) Tour Iguazu Falls National Park

Day 10) Start Towards Home; Conclusion

If you read even one blog, you'll see that I went to learn about agriculture but I learned so much more.  By talking with people who live in Argentina, the group was able to learn about the culture and lifestyle.  I really enjoyed my trip abroad and I am looking forward to future trips.  

Day 6) Dinner at Lence Farm

I loved having a professor who was from the country where were toured, because of the insight he gave and the connections he had.  One of the best nights in Argentina was the asado held at the Lence farm.  Not only was the food delicious, the family was very welcoming.

Food is an important part of Argentine culture, and it's a good thing I like meat.  Asado is a type of BBQ where the meat is cooked for many hours over an open fire.  It is also usually cooked without being cut away from part of the caracas.  After playing yard games and touring the farm, we all sat around the fire for a great meal.  

The meal consisted of meat and bread, and I tried to eat traditionally only using a knife and bread to eat the meat.  Although I was only somewhat successful, I enjoyed the company.  We couldn't all speak the same language, but we did laugh quite a bit.  While eating, I discovered the lamb kidney is not my favorite, but it's all the experience, right? 

A big day ended well with good food and good people, I really was enjoying Argentina.  

Day 7) Los Grobos Agribusiness Cooperation

ur first stop on one of the last days we spent in the Las Pampas area of Argentina was at Los Grobos.  Los Grobos is a very impressive agri-business that is the connection between land, farmers, and necessities.  They are a leader in products, services, and knowledge. 

Because interest rates in Argentina are about 35% per year, Los Grobos helps farmers manage risk by assisting farmers by lending credit.  I thought it was interesting that through consolidation, Los Grobos was able to grow. 

After talking to a farmer, he mentioned that the community was skeptical at first but they are now supportive of the business.  The business so very diversified so they are able to help farmers with almost everything, from purchasing grain to selling products.  They also help companies, like Rizobacter, move product past their company salesmen and Los Grobos helps sell product to their customers. 

The large company was interesting and I am looking forward to seeing the company grow and prosper in the future.  

Day 6) Orazi Feedlot and Pork Producer

The last stop on our longest day did not disappoint.  We visited the Orazi Farms, owned by two brothers.  One brother was passionate about beef cattle, while the other was beginning in pork production.  Because of the poor infrastructure, we were picked up in vans to avoid the bus traveling down the rural roads. 

The feedlot was comparable to a feedlot seen in the United States.  The cattle were kept in a large pen with feed bunk where they eat.  Orazi’s have 1000 cows, which they raise their own cattle.  They also are hired by outside sources to feed out cattle.  The calves are descendants of Scottish breeds, making them smaller in frame size.  The calves are weaned at about two to four months old and go to market after one year at 750 pounds.  Growth promotions are prohibited in Argentina and the cattle are usually sent to local markets to cut transportation costs. 

Instead of charging his customers a rate to care for their cattle, they are only charged an increase above what it costs to feed the cattle, usually 20-40% depending on the markets.  Orazi’s farm about 2,800 hectors (7000 acres) of corn and soybeans.  They yield goals are 60 bushels per acre for soybeans and 160 bushels per acre for corn, which is just slightly lower than yields in the US.

Again it was mentioned that it is difficult to find good employees who are knowledgeable and motivated.  The people who work on the farm have been there for quite a while and are valued. 

Since my background is mainly in pork production, I was very excited to see a pork production facility.  The second Orazi brother showed us his new facilities that he is in the process of building.  By this fall, this goal is to have 50 sows with one of four groups farrowing every 30 days.  The farm consists of four hoop buildings, one for maternity, finishing, keeping the sows, and growing the pigs. 

Although slats in buildings are common in Argentina, the costs are high.  The maternity hoops will have pens that are between a farrowing crate and an open pen, allowing the sow to move. 

To breed the sows, a boar is used to heat check and see if the sow is in heat.  Then a foam rod is used during Artificial Insemination.  The semen costs about 70 pesos per dose and he is currently using 3 doses per sow but make sure they are bred. 

It was interesting to hear that feed is the highest cost just like it is in the US, being 70% of the total cost in Argentina.  This was one of my favorite stops because of the dedication and excitement the Orazi brothers had with their farm.  

Day 6) Roberto Lence Dairy Farm

Never being on a dairy farm before, I enjoyed traveling to Roberto Lence’s dairy farm.  The farm was started in 1991 and currently runs 345 cows.  The goal is to have 80% of the cows always milking; so 300 cows are currently milked twice a day.  I had the opportunity to step down and watch alongside the milkers as they worked to milk 24 cows at one time.  I loved seeing the passion and dedication that each person on the farm consisted of. 

Dedication is important on a dairy farm, and the family in charge of milking was defiantly dedicated.  They milk at 2 am and 2 pm each day so the milk is ready when the truck comes at 5 am.  Each milking takes about 2 ½ hours and the milk is then sold for 38 cents per liter. 

It was also great to hear that about once a month the surrounding farmers gather to discuss issues and challenges with their local vets and other people in the industry.  I could tell that farming in Argentina was a collaborative effort and everyone worked together.

All the feed that is fed to the cows, calves, replacement heifers, and feeder steers is mixed on the farm.  It consists of cottonseed, wheat burrs, and corn silage.  Vitamins and minerals are feed but rarely are their antibiotics and steroids given to the cattle.

When breeding the cows, they use Artificial Insemination.  Hormones are given to the cows so they know when she is in heat and can be bred.   They are bred throughout the year to meet the goal of having 80% of the cows in milking conditions at all time. 

Seeing the young dairy calves was one of the highlights on my trip, and I thought it was interesting that they are kept outside with constant access to feed and water.  Every two weeks the calves are moved to a different part of the yard to keep the ground clean and limit bacteria growth.  They are kept outside because it is a healthy alternative to stay warm in the sun while their mothers are being milked. 

Walking around the dairy farm reminded me of a farm in Iowa, complete with passion, hard work, and lots of animals.  

Day 6) Zubeldia Manufacturer

During one of the stops in Carlos Casares was at Zubeldia, an agriculture equipment manufacture.  The 38-year-old company specializes in quality manufacturing and is family owned.  Zubeldia has a total of 16 employees, four in sales and 12 manufacturing the equipment, and exports to four to five countries. 

I enjoyed seeing their latest breakthrough product, a sprayer that is the longest in the world with the boom width at 41 feet.  It was also very interesting to see the quality of work that the company prided themselves in.  They said it takes one week just to sand and paint the equipment.  They produce various sizes of equipment, ranging from $800-$250,000. 

After viewing the various types of equipment at Zubeldia, we had lunch hosted by a local honey producer’s house.  The typical lunch included delicious bread, cured meats, and farmer’s cheese.  Our host is a mid-size bee producer with 1,200 beehives around the area. 

It was interesting to hear the large amount of impact that the government has on the honey industry, specifically with exports.  Currently, there is no market for honey and they are also being forced to mix the high quality honey with lower grade honey, which also hurts the business. 

It was an honor to have dined in an Argentine home, mostly because our host felt like it was a great honor.  He was delighted that we were able to experience his culture and was very welcoming. 

Day 7) Duckas Hay and Silage Production

Our last agriculture stop was where I got sunburnt, but seeing a family run silage business was worth the burn.  Duckas Hay Production is a 32-year-old family run business that has been serving the same customers for the past 18 years.  Not only do they cut silage all over Argentina, but they have also expanded their business to meet all needs of their customers.  They provide services for hay balers, manure spreaders, and construction equipment. 

We watched Duckas cut silage for a 4,000 head dairy.  50% of the silage they cut goes to dairy and the other 50% for meat production.  Their chopper was imported from Germany and the crews work for six months, living in provided housing.  The employees are also fed by a chef that travels with the crews and are provided with clothing.

The tips I took away from this visit were the fact that you need to do everything possible to please your customers as well as your employees.  The fact that they have not had any new customers for the past 18 years but have been able to expand their business is amazing.  It proves that customer service and good character is important.  

Day 7) Raul Cardaci Farm Tour

While touring Argentina, I realized and appreciated the hospitality that each person gave us as visitors.  It specifically showed at the Cardaci farm, where we ate lunch and talked with the family. 

I enjoyed learning about Argentina agriculture by Raul Cardaci sharing about his farm and personal experiences.  Hearing that he did not intend to expand his business but instead he took advantage of various opportunities was interesting.  I had also never seen tractors and other farm equipment that was marked with the farm name, Don Angel.  His farm was named after his grandfather. 

Raul farms 3,000 acres but owns 800 acres.  He raises 70% soybeans and 30% corn, with 80% being no till.  The corn is used to raise his 220 cows.  Raul sells half of his crops to Los Grobos and negotiates other prices with various businesses. 

Weather is a challenge in the United States, but Raul wasn’t the only person in Argentina who mentioned that the government is a large challenge.  He also has no crop insurance. 

One of my favorite parts was meeting Raul’s daughter, Jime.  She has worked at Los Grobos for the past five years and it was her first job out of the university.  She told me that women in agri-businesses are becoming more popular.

The family was all very interested about life in the United States, just like we were interested in life in Argentina.  The biggest surprise was that the family, like other farm families, did not live on their farm.  Instead they live in town and stay in the farmhouse on the weekends and in the summer.  We were allowed to dip our feet in the pool on the hot Argentine day. 

The one thing I will take away from this day was the advice that Raul gave us.

“Be honest, neat, and take care of things.  If you have a farm, keep farming.” 

Day 6) Pagano South America

Living on a cattle farm, I’ve always known that the tags we put in the calves and cows to mark their identity are important.  I never knew how the tags were exactly made.  After visiting Pagano South America, I gained an understanding of the plastic industry.

First we learned about the company that was started 47 years ago as a repair show.  Now ran by the two sons of the founder and president, Pagano manufactures electric fence, ear tags, and security fence.  They sell to 14 countries and never sell directly to producers. 

The government requires two tags per each cow that includes the producer’s number and the tag manufacturer’s number assigned by the veterinarian.  I found it interesting that AllTech, an American company, has about 50% of the Argentine market, while Pagano has 20% of the market. 

We walked throughout the factory, seeing how the plastic is melted and stretched to make fence, while the tags are written on by a laser.  It was also neat to see that the company has had a competition the past three years that gives the useless leftover plastic to artists and encourages them to create a sculpture.  The creativity and efficiency was very impressive.  

Above: ear tags that will be sent to distributers  Top Right: sculptures make from plastic  Top Right Bottom: tags ready to on the laser

Above: ear tags that will be sent to distributers

Top Right: sculptures make from plastic

Top Right Bottom: tags ready to on the laser

Day 5) INTA

hen we arrived at INTA, the National Institute for Agriculture, I immediately noticed that a sign was posted that said “Centro de Capacitcion; Dr. Norman E. Borlaug.”  I later found out that a group that was working on sustainable agriculture practices with Dr. Borlaug once visited, which I thought was very neat since he is an iconic legend from Iowa and someone who I admire.

While at INTA, we listened to a panel of speakers who discusses various topics.  Since my class topic is rural Argentina (we have to look into a specific area of interest before and after the trip) I was specifically interested in how agriculture has affected rural Argentina and how women are involved in agriculture.

INTA was created in 1956 to help agriculture research improve rural life.  One thing I found very interesting that the term “agriculture” does not mean everything involved in agriculture, it only implies to crops.  Livestock is the term to describe animals and agriculture was never used to describe livestock. 

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