Grain News


Illinois Soybean Farmers Collaborate During Argentina Study Mission

Date Posted: March 28, 2013

Bloomington, IL—A group of Illinois soybean farmers was in Argentina recently for a study mission to better understand the global soybean market and collaborate on those issues of mutual concern. Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) directors say the tour was part of the organization's overall efforts to focus on Illinois and U.S. market access.

"Our goals were to exchange information of mutual benefit regarding operations and investments and to collaborate on common challenges with the environment, sustainability, production and production research," says Bill Wykes, soybean farmer from Yorkville, Ill., and ISA chairman.

"We had open discussions in areas of mutual concern and created relationships for identifying future areas of interest as we learned about the business and social culture of Argentina."

In addition to Wykes, trip participants included ISA directors Bill Raben, Ridgway, Ill.; Ross Prough, Greenfield, Ill.; Don Guinnip, Marshall, Ill.; and ISA CEO Craig Ratajczyk.

Wykes says Illinois farmers learned that Argentine farmers have no government support programs, no financial industry support, no exemptions from taxes, no insurance programs or any other type of incentives or protections, so they must look for ways to diversify their portfolio and manage risk like other businesses in their country.

Argentine farms are relatively large and often include production of several commodities, as farmers may pay up to 65 percent of gross proceeds as taxes.

"Agriculture production plays a major role in Argentina's GDP (gross domestic product), and as such, people are very interested in working in the agriculture industry.

"Soybean farmers and the agriculture industry are working to develop industries to grow and be profitable, but face challenges with currency fluctuations, inflation, government policies and urban scrutiny," says Ratajczyk.

"Since agriculture is such a major player in their economy, it is much more of a target for government revenues, but also has the challenge of educating urban consumers and key influencers about their business."

Visits included a stop in Rosario at a 2,400-plus acre farm that no-tills corn, soybeans and wheat and has a cattle operation.

The visit allowed Illinois farmers to learn about Argentine farming practices, crop rotation, fertilization and herbicide management, commercial and financial aspects of his operation and equipment.

Other similar farm stops also were part of the tour.

The group learned about soybean transportation in Argentina, particularly the ports along the Paraná River.

Rosario is a major railroad terminal and the shipping center for northeastern Argentina and has the world's largest concentration of oilseed crushing and biodiesel plants.

In both Rosario and Buenos Aires, Illinois soybean farmers forged relationships with organizations that include the Argentine No Till Farmers Association, Argentina Soybean Chain Association, Argentine Cooperative Association, Rosario Board of Trade and Buenos Aires Grain Exchange, and met with USDA and International Plant Nutrition Institute representatives.

For more information, call 618-656-0870.

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