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Keeping an eye on Argentina

In addition to speaking at the Women in Blue Jeans Conference this weekend, I spoke at the Kingsbury Co. Cattlemen's Association's Annual Meeting on Saturday night. This time, the topic of conversation was my experiences in Argentina this past summer.

In June, I traveled with the SDSU Spanish Department to live and study in Buenos Aires, Argentina for one month. While there, I was able to take part in some amazing adventures. I saw Iguazu Falls, the second largest waterfall in the world. I visited the Andes Mountains to explore Argentina's wine production sector. I lived in the capital city, the 8th largest in the world, with 13 million people within its limits. I spoke Spanish, all day, everyday. I ate new foods, and I tried new things. Most importantly, I learned a great deal about Argentine's culture.

Today's lead article, Soy Gains 2% Price Increase in Argentine Markets, reminded me of my time spent in South America, and what I learned about Argentine agriculture. Did you know that consumers in Argentina eat three times more beef each year than those of us in the United States? That's about 150 lbs. of beef each year! Today's article mentions a road barricade by protesting Argentine farmers, and it reminded me of a story.

During my stay in Argentina, the farmers were on a strike for four months in protest to high export taxes. Because of an extreme economic crisis in the early 2000's, the goverenment is working to keep domestic prices down, which is the reason behind the high export taxes. Of the millions of cattle that are raised in La Pampa, only 10% enter the export market.

Anyway, on a weekend in Argentina, our group decided to take a double-decker bus to Mendoza to visit the vineyards. To our dismay, our 12-hour drive turned into a 16-hour one as our bus was pulled over by ranchers throughout the night. Of course, as the bus slept, I stayed awake with another farm girl to watch the turmoil. The farmers would run out with a rope to stop the busses. At each stop, we waited a half hour before the ranchers let us continue our journey. Beef carcasses burned on the side of the road, and banners hung across trees and electrical poles. I could see the sadness in their eyes as they clung to the idea that a strike would give their voices a louder echo in Argentina.

Yes, it certainly was an experience to be remembered, and I thought I would share it with you today on the BEEF Daily Blog. Stay tuned for more stories about my Argentine adventures.