"It looks just like the Midwest"
As the state officers on ILSSO rode across the Argentinian Pampas, I remember someone commenting on just how close this looked to home. Soybean fields stretched across the flat lands. Trees popped up marking the farmer's houses and buildings.
Argentina is the world's third largest producer of soybeans but they export most of what they grow. They also produce a lot of high quality beef, are the leading producer of lemons, grow wine grapes in the Andean foothills, and grow significant amounts of sunflowers and corn. Although the Pampas may have looked similar to the United States, there were differences in how they grew their crops. Exploring their agriculture opened my eyes to the fact that we as an industry still have growing to do. In the United States, farmers are exceptional at what they do and take pride in their work, however we are not perfect. Just as Argentinian farmers have much to learn and ways to benefit from us, so we have lessons to be learned from them.
During our trip we visited a crop and beef farm, a show sheep operation, and a dairy. Although some of the practices differed (they tended to graze more, they used fewer fertilizers on crops) it was obvious they took pride in the work they did to feed the world. They, just like us, want to produce a high quality product. They, just like farmers here, want to raise their families to value hard work and honesty.
Later we had the opportunity to see some of the agribusiness. Touring the T6 soybean crushing facility and the Buenos Aires Livestock Market was awe-inspiring. Not only was T6 state of the art, but it was responsible for crushing 19% of the country's soybean meal. Both facilities were massive. The livestock market had the capacity to hold 50,000 head of cattle. These businesses reflected the magnitude and importance of agriculture to the Argentinian economy.
Finally, we were privileged to see Iguazu Falls in the north of the country. It is a sight that cannot be given justice through words or photographs.
There was more to the trip, from seeing their culture at a Gaucho ranch, to experiencing the hustle and bustle of the city. At the end of the day though, there are a few things that this trip highlighted:
1. Don't assume your opinions of other places or people are correct, travel and find out for yourself
2. Agriculture is incredible. Nearly everyone, everywhere can find a link to it.
3. There is more than our way of practicing agriculture. Different is simply different, it isn't better or worse.
1. People- everywhere- are people. Beyond the culture, we have a lot alike.
So there you have it. Nine days, a few thousand miles, eight flights, and many friendships later, what has been gained from one incredible trip.
Respectfully submitted from the emblem of Washington.
Dare to Do,
Nathan Eli Daninger