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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Day 5) Rizobacter

After eating with two employees from Rizobacter, we were able to tour their business the next day.  The company was very impressive and hospitable to their visitors.  We first listened to a presentation that covered the company overview.  Rizobacter focuses on the treatment of seeds as well as microbiology.  They were founded by five friends in 1977 and how have almost 400 employees spanning 25 various countries on four continents.  They have grown to this size by investing 50% of their profits into continue research and have been able to make four large alliances with over companies, Syngenta being one of them. 

71% of their products go to distributors, who sell the product to farmers.  One advantage of farming in Argentina is that they have a longer growing period and have more time to plant, harvest, and sell products. 

Their labs are continuing to develop products that help with sustainability.  There is at least one person in the labs at all times.  I was very surprised to see the same kind of values and goals instilled in this successful company that would be important to successful United States businesses.  Although I am not interested in microbiology or agronomy, this was one of the most interesting stops on the trip.  

Day 4) Cargill Crushing Facility and Rizobacter Dinner

After the market, we got out of the city and traveled to the country where we saw plots of corn and soybeans.  The plants looked very similar to a field in Iowa, flat and green.  Dekalb is the popular brand of seed corn, but the beans are often developed in Argentina.  And yes, there are still mosquitoes in Argentina. 

The crushing facility was built and performed similar to one in the United States.  Although it is an American company, all employees are native to Argentina.  Located by a river, the plant has 340 employees.  Only about 15 of them are women.  Seven years also, there was one woman working at this Cargill plant.  They have up to 300 trucks deliver soybeans per day that is later crushed into oil and meal, because the export tax is lower compared to a soybean.  They also have a soy biodiesel plant that has been shut down for three months because the market is so low and farmers are not selling their crop.  It was interested to hear that Cargill is taking advantage of the farmer strike and is providing them with storage bags in return for their business when they are ready to sell their crop. 

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Day 4) Liniers Cattle Market

Each day seems better than the next, and attending the Linear Cattle Market, touring the largest Argentine Cargill Crushing facility, and ending with a barbecue with a local crop company. 

The Linear Cattle Market is the largest market in Argentina, a total of 80 acres.  Opening in 1901, the market is now is privately owned by 55 brokers.  Each broker has specific pens and brings in certain cattle and buyers.  We were able to watch 4 different brokers sell their cattle, breeds ranging from Herefords, black Angus, and even a few water buffalo. 

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Day 3) Gaucho Ranch

Being in Argentina, this is my first experience where I do not understand the native language.  Before this trip, I never understood what it was like to have someone talk to you and have no idea what he or she is saying.  I now have a new sympathy for immigrants and tourists who take chances and go beyond their comfort zone to experience a new culture.

Three days in and my trip has been fabulous, complete with learning to tango dance and riding a horse a gaucho ranch.  The biggest lesson so far has been how there are always a few things humans comprehend, no matter their native language.  All people from all countries can share music, animals, and a smile.   

The old cowboys are called gauchos.  Similar to the United States western cowboys, these guys use horses to ranch cattle.  We were able to tour a historic house and ride horses on a trail.  Lunch was served in a large dining hall where people from around the world enjoyed the food; a few even enjoyed the blood sausage that was served (use your imagination of what it is made from).  After singing and dancing during the performance, we watched a gaucho show.  

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Day 2) City Tour and Tango

The city of Buenos Aires is a mixture of old, historical buildings mixed with new, contemporary buildings.  The city was established in 1536, yet only one building remains because in 1880 everything was torn down and the city was planned.  About 3 million people live in the city, and 10 million reside in the suburbs. 

The May Square is one of many plazas throughout the city, often the plaza has a statue and a park.  The Pink House sits on the May Square, which is where the president's office is.  It is crazy to think that I have been inside the Argentine capitol and have never been allowed inside of the United State White House. All I had to go through was a simple metal detector!

 The Pink House is pink because when it was built, the material was a mix of clay and ox fat, which the blood turned the walls pink.  Argentina has had two women presidents, one which is in power currently.  Christina took over after her husband died during his presidency and we quickly learned that she is not well liked.  The Pink House is open to the public and just has a metal detector as security. 

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Day 1) Facts

To begin, you should know something about Argentina.  See map to the left if you're wondering when in the world Argentina is located. 

A lot of useful information was given while at the US Embassy and by listening to representatives from Cargill Argentina's headquarters.  Information is listed below:

- Argentina has experience a 40% inflation over the past year; the US dollar is about 10 pesos

- there are US Embassy's in 150 countries

- Embassy's work with the government to increase ties and help traveling citizens

- the Argentine government limits the amount of exports and a certificate is needed

- 50% of the farm land is rented, making it hard to be sustainable

- the soil in the western part has more clay while the eastern part has more sand.  Soil in Northern Argentina is red. 


 Most important things expanded on:

- Argentina produces about 14-15 million tons of corn, but the government only allows 8 million to be exported.  This negatively effects the corn market and farmers are resorting to storing corn using bins and large bags on their farms instead of selling it. 

- 50% of the land is rented, but prices are not steady so the renters main focus is to make the most money for one year.  The soybean has a very strong market, so crop rotation is limited which depletes the soil. 

- We were told that "the farmer helps the government, but the government does't help the farmer."  With a 32% export tax on any soybeans that are exported, the government limits their large profits by only allowing a certain amount of soybeans to be exported, which also hurts farmers. 

- Agriculture is growing, with crops increasing 7% per year while the population of Argentina is increasing 1%.  

Since this trip consisted of agriculture in Argentina, have no fear that more facts and information is coming in the upcoming blogs!