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Articles from 2001 In April

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-----Travel Diary, Day 1-2

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Friday – Jan. 26

Leave Miami International Airport on American Flight 991 at 11:15 p.m. (Plane ride #1)

Saturday – Jan. 27

Arrive Buenos Aires International Airport at about 10 a.m.

Clear Customs and meet Hans Kristensen, Tour Director. Board bus for 30-minute ride to hotel.

Afternoon: walking tour of the downtown city area.

Evening: Dinner with Under Secretary of Agriculture Jorge Caxenave Sr. for a discussion and questions on Argentina agriculture. He was in Washington D.C. as the Argentina Agriculture Attaché from 1975 to 1977. He has traveled extensively in the U.S. and knows many of the key agriculture people.

He stated that 90% of Argentina’s soya (everyone in Argentina and Brazil uses the word soya for soybeans) and 70% of their corn is GMO. They found that the advantages of Roundup were superb. There is a lot of double crop (wheat & soya). We later saw in the Pampas thousands of acres of soybeans in various growth stages that were following wheat.

He stated that most of the soya is planted no till. They have similar weed problems as the U.S. and that they have some Johnsongrass. As we drove through the Pampas, we saw what I considered excessive amounts of thistles growing in numerous untilled areas. They looked very similar to what we call Canada Thistle in Indiana. He stated they use mostly 4 to 6 maturity group soybean seed. They have a mild winter, the winter being June to September.

The soya and corn harvest is March through June. They produce about 21 million metric tons of soya meal, (2,204.62 pounds per ton). They export 17 million metric tons of soya meal and they use 4 million metric tons for domestic consumption.

Transportation costs are high. The average distance to haul from the farm is 250 miles. Most of the soya for export goes to Rosario. Rosario is a city of more than one million people, mainly of Italian and Spanish descent. The city is located on the Parana River and is about 200 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires. Water depth at Rosario is 30 feet so international vessels can load at the processors along the river.

Their second largest production is occurring in 2001. They are increasing wheat but most of it is going farther south (cooler). They also produce sunflower, corn, beef and wine. Fruits, such as grapes, apples and asparagus, are shipped to the U.S. in the off season. Agricultural products account for 60% of their exports.

They like the free market and the competition. There are no government support payments for the Argentina farmers. He stated they have 50 million heads of cattle and most are Herefords and Angus with the 80% of the cattle being British breeds.

He said the weather is hard to understand. Rainfall is very well spread over the year and that grass grows all year. They have no frost and no snow. Summer temperatures are in the 70s to 80s. When it gets to the 90s, the southwest winds come over the mountains from Chile and then the rain comes with cool nights. There is lots of double cropping. Moldboard plows are gone and 90% of their soybean production is Roundup Ready. They have a common market with Brazil.

Typical farm in the Pampas is 400 acres with the largest about 30,000 hectares (74,130 acres). The largest farm belongs to a British person. There are a few 10,000-hectare farms (24,710 acres). There is no restriction on land ownership.

Increased additional soya acreage has come from the reduction of corn and sunflower acreage. Argentina has very big competition on market with Brazil

Pork production is not well developed in Argentina. They import pork, mainly from Brazil.

Most of the beef is grass fed. Most cattle are slaughtered at 800 to 900 lbs. at an age of about 18 to 20 months. Some beef are grazed on small grains in the winter. There are a few feed lots totaling perhaps one million heads. They finish only about 90 to 100 days. They expect more Argentina beef exports to Europe.

Almost all land is already in row crops that can be in row crops. (This contrasts greatly with our visit in Brazil where they continue to put new land into production) There are about 27 million hectares (66.72 million acres) in row crops. Before soya, they had about 20 million hectares (49.42 million acres) in row crops and 7 million hectares (17.3 million acres) in grasslands. He stated any new row crop production is too far from the ports to allow for a significant increase in soybean acres. Newly cleared areas would likely go to edible beans.

The Pampas prairie area is 65 million hectares (160.62 million acres). It is about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) from north to south. It runs to the Atlantic coast (Buenos Aires) to nearly the mountain range along the west side of Argentina. Rosario is on the Parana River and is 240 miles from the ocean. From Rosario, barges operate on up the Parana River to the north-northwest. Fertilizer comes from U.S. and Europe. They use mostly phosphorus. They do not need any potash on any crops.

There is a tax on the land when the land passes to the heirs. Property ownership is very well spread. Most of the land is owned in the corporate form to avoid the unusual inheritance law requiring the breakup of the land upon death.

He stated they have lots of natural gas in Argentina. Interest rates – have some government assistance but not much. Rates range from 12% to 14%. For the single farmer, rates are too high.

Balance of trade is negative. Agriculture must help to balance. Have goals to increase beef exports. About 20% of beef production is currently exported. He says Argentina is an air-conditioned country for beef production.

All soya exports are processed meal and oil, no raw soybeans. The humanitarian help that some organizations provide does not help them. He says it is a disruption of the market, and he doesn’t like it because it hurts their sales.

For other diary entries, click on the entry day(s) below.

Day 1-2

Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9

This online diary is being re-published with permission from Soybean Digest. Bookmark and visit us next week for Day 3 of this travel diary.

For 2002 travel plans to South America, visit

Sizing Up South America

Travelers experienced 17-day tour of Argentina and Brazil. Featuring 11 on-farm tours and 12 ag-related business stops, farmers got up-close and personal with their global competitors.

Editor’s Note: During the early stages of harvest in South America (Jan. 26-Feb. 11), a group of U.S. producers toured the greater agricultural regions of Brazil and Argentina. Allen Cummins, who has farmed most of his life and has 20 years of experience as a farm manager in Lafayette, IN, agreed to share his experiences as he traveled on this trip. His viewpoints offer wonderful insight into our global competitors in the Southern Hemisphere. We are grateful for Allen’s detailed perspectives and provide them for you in full text format.

Contact Information: Allen H. Cummins
328 Plateau Drive
Lafayette, Indiana 47909
Telephone: (765) 474-8900
e-mail: [email protected]
Web site:

TOUR FOR 2002: For travel information regarding South American tours for 2002, link to the Kristensen International Travel and Tours (KITT) Web site at Or, call KITT directly at (800) 635-5488 and ask for Hans Kristensen or Betina Kohler.

Summary of Argentina and Brazil Tour

Jan. 26 – Feb. 11, 2001

Note: Two primary problems occurred in obtaining accurate technical and numerical information; the first was the translation from Spanish or Portuguese to English, and the second was converting from metric to the U.S. measure. As we traveled through various parts of Argentina and Brazil, we had different interpreters at the local stops. Some were more competent in translating technical agriculture information than others. For instance, they would sometimes say such things as 10 thousands when they meant 100,000. On one occasion, while on the bus after a visit to farm, it took over 20 minutes to get the estimated corn yield converted from kilos or tons per hectare to bushels per acre. However, as we got further into the trip and we began to hear the same answers from different interpreters, we usually felt like we had the right information. In our early discussions, we had some difficulty getting answers on answers that we could rely on - such as price of land per acre, yields per acre, cost of certain inputs per acre, costs of labor, taxes, miles to terminals, costs per ton or per bushel for transportation, etc. I believe the numerical information presented below is reasonably accurate. However, I’m not willing to bet the farm on it.


  • This was a fantastic trip! I think I have seen enough soybeans to last me for a long time. If the young U.S. farmers could afford to go on a tour such as this, I’d highly recommend it. They need to see who is their real competition. If they think their competition is their neighbor who keeps bidding up the cash rent, think again. It’s the boys in Argentina and Brazil. The reason soybeans prices are poor is the huge, beautiful crop we saw in both countries.
  • Most of the farmers and businesses and government officials have e-mail and access to the Internet. They have access to commodity, weather, financial and agricultural information the same as any U.S. farmer.
  • Transportation of farm commodities from the farm to the terminal is more difficult and costly than in the U.S. Transportation costs are higher than U.S.
  • Their main highways are similar and as good as ours. However, once you leave the main highways, every road is dirt. The roads are solid and will handle heavy trucks, but the trucks have to drive far and slow from the fields or farms to get to the paved highways.
  • Labor is cheap. Most tractor drivers and laborers are paid $200 to $400 per month. Thus, we saw labor being substituted for capital and equipment in some cases. Farm equipment sizes are smaller than the typical U.S. farm. They drive more planters and combines with cheaper and more laborers.
  • They have a lot of the same insect and weed problems that we have.
  • Chemical prices were considerably lower than U.S.
  • Inflation is not a major problem in either country.
  • We felt safe walking any of the streets in the interior cities about any time of the day.
  • Most of the cars are much smaller than U.S. because of the high price for fuel.
  • Argentina and Brazilian farmers and their officials do not like the U.S. government subsidies.
  • It would be a grave mistake to go back to set-aside acreage reductions in the United States because Argentina and Brazil would greatly benefit. They would increase production and total supplies would not be reduced. I think they would be happy if we implemented some acreage reduction program because it would also benefit them.
  • If the signage in Argentina were English, I would have thought I was in some parts of the U.S.
  • The top-notch farmers in both countries are just as good at production as U.S. farmers.
  • We are in a truly global market.
  • One can purchase and clear soybean-producing land for $500 to $700 per acre. Before a person considers the purchase, he should be just as prudent as he would be in the U.S. Soil types vary; there are reputable and not so reputable Brokers ready to help you invest. I think I would want to live there through the planting and harvesting seasons before I'd put any money in their land.
  • Prior to the trip, I was quite concerned that we would be infected with malaria if bitten by a mosquito. There is no malaria in the areas we traveled. I only saw two mosquitoes and I would not have noticed those if I had not being looking for them. One needs to travel about 400 kilometers north of Cuiaba before you start to enter the rainforest. And even then, the locals said we needed to go deep into the jungle before the likelihood of contacting the disease. Based on our doctor’s recommendation and before traveling, we got yellow fever shots, hepatitis A & B, and updated tetanus shots. You should contact your physician for his advice on other medicines to take with you.
  • If you travel to these countries, get a metric conversion chart off the Internet and print in on an 8" x 11" paper. Take a small pocket calculator. Get a list of important words in Spanish and Portuguese, such as thank you, good morning, ice, no ice, water, no gas, how much, etc.
  • For diary entries, click on the entry day(s) below.

    Day 1-2

    Day 3Day 4Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7Day 8Day 9

    This online diary is being re-published with permission from Soybean Digest. Some minor revisions have been made by BEEF editors.

Vertical Coordination in Agriculture

Vertical Coordination in Agriculture

With contract farming and other forms of vertical coordination expanding in the U.S., the Council for Agricultural Sciences and Technology offers producers a guide to weigh the pros and cons.

A new report from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) provides farmers, policymakers and community leaders a guide to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of contract farming and other forms of vertical coordination in agriculture. The report analyzes how vertical coordination in the food chain can change rural communities that have farming-dependent economies.

The report documents that vertical coordination is increasing in the U.S. and will continue to expand in rural areas as farmers seek alliances with food processors and others to provide capital, technology and markets. As a result, farmers can lower risks and costs to produce more efficiently. However, the practice is controversial because it can put traditional family farmers at a disadvantage to more integrated business structures that are typically large-scale operations. These integrated businesses also have posed environmental challenges, including manure management and odor issues resulting from the large number of animals often raised in concentrated areas.

According to the CAST report, a few communities in the Great Plains could potentially seize opportunities to attract value-added agricultural manufacturing through vertical coordination because their low rainfall and open spaces help mitigate manure management issues. However, no single formula works for every community to evaluate the pros and cons of vertical coordination.

Some of the public policy considerations addressed in this CAST report include:

  • Costs of controlling odor, waste and pests need to be charged to the producing units and not to their neighbors or other "downstream" parties.
  • If vertical coordination is deemed inappropriate, labeling backed by proper standards and enforcement may provide a useful policy option.
  • Firms will tend to go to the places with the weakest environmental standards. Thus some national standards may be appropriate. A county option is sometimes useful where environmental regulations need to differ appropriately among local areas.
  • It is essential that the U.S. continue to promote competition through antitrust and other measures.
  • Instead of investing in attempts to bring in agriculturally related industry, many rural communities will find it advantageous to use their resources to build the skills and networks of local residents to increase their options.
  • Greater transparency in vertical integration contracts would keep parties to the contract better informed and would promote competition and public awareness.

The report also addresses the role of e-commerce in rural development. It concludes that e-commerce will at best only help rural communities catch up with technology already available to both urban and suburban communities. Rural communities will need to focus on social organization rather than technology alone.

A copy of the report Vertical Coordination of Agriculture in Farming-Dependent Areas is available through the CAST Web site It is also available by calling (515) 292-2125 or e-mailing [email protected]. Printed copies are $25.00 plus $3.00 shipping in the U.S. and Canada.

Source: CAST press release

FMD & BSE: What Every Producer Needs To Know

The U.S. is working to remain free of foreign animal diseases like foot-and-mouth and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Preventing these different diseases requires different actions.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Cattlemen's Beef Board have outlined these actions in an informational brochure. To download this brochure, just click here. (This download takes about one minute and requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. For a free download of this software, click here.)

A New Era in Federal Lands Grazing

Ranchers holding permits to graze public lands should have an easier go of it for a while, as the Bush administration plugs in its people and policies to manage the nation’s forests and rangelands.

"Permit owners will find themselves involved in policy-making earlier in the process and will also provide incentives compliance with conservation objectives," says Jason Campbell, Washington D.C., executive director of the Public Lands Council (PLC).

The former system of land management under the Clinton administration often pitted private owners against the federal bureaucracy in adversarial relationships.

The era of mandates from Washington is giving way to the Bush administration’s common-sense solutions, says Campbell. He has confidence in Interior Secretary Gale Norton’s agenda and is looking forward to working with the new secretary. The Interior Department is the parent agency for the Bureau of Land Management.

"She knows the best natural resource planning is done at the local level and involves private landowners," says Campbell.

Norton said publicly early on in her term that the cooperative approach preferred by Bush will contrast the litigious system used for eight years by the Clinton administration.

Lawsuits filed by environmental groups under the Endangered Species Act, for example, have clogged the courts and diverted crucial resources of the Interior Department.

"Norton is proposing a new system of prioritizing which species need the most protection," explains Campbell. "She will then direct her agency to work with state and local regulators in conjunction with the local landowners."

Campbell works day to day with PLC president Paul Frischknecht of Utah and K.L. Bliss, Montana, PLC vice-president.

Among the long-term goals is for the PLC to maximize regulatory relief with the Bush administration, Frischnecht says.

"PLC will seek to streamline the environmental review process and enact National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) exclusions within land use planning for existing or ongoing activities," he says. "PLC would like to more closely examine the economic impact some federal regulations have on the ranchers who use federal lands."

But, Campbell says it’s important to work quickly.

"With the new administration in place, our interests are looking at a window of six to 18 months to get some of these needed changes enacted," he warns. "Our members need to act now; when this window closes, the focus of the Bush administration turns to re-election and avoiding controversy."

New Forest Chief

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman selected Dale Bosworth as the new chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Bosworth succeeds former chief Mike Dombeck.

Bosworth is a career forester with the Forest Service. His most recent post was as regional forester for the Forest Service's Northern Region, which include northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and northwestern South Dakota.

The Forest Service has an organization of more than 30,000 employees and a budget of $4.6 billion.

Prior to his current assignment, the native Californian was the regional forester in the Intermountain Region and deputy regional forester in the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service. He also has worked as a forest supervisor and district ranger.

Bosworth graduated from the University of Idaho in 1966 with a bachelor of science degree in forestry.

Graze-Out Payments

The Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000 provides for "Graze-Out" payments instead of Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs), for the 2001 crop year only to eligible producers who elect to use acreage planted to wheat, barley or oats the grazing livestock. Producers must agree to forgo any other harvesting of the commodity on such acreage during the 2001 crop year.

The acreage must be planted on a Production Flexibility Contract (PFC) farm, certified on the acreage report as intended for grazing only, and cannot be harvested by any means other than grazing. Application for the Graze-Out program begins on the first day of mechanical harvest (as determined by the FSA County Committee) and ends on August 31, 2001.

For more information on the Public Lands Council contact Jason Campbell, Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Center for Policy, [email protected] or call 202/347-0228.

Scientists Lasso Computers to Help with Ranch Plans

When managed skillfully, the dry, rugged ranges of the American Southwest can support healthy herds of cattle, sheep and goats. Leathery shrubs and coarse grasses of the region also enable other animals to thrive.

To help keep the region's grazinglands – and ranchers' profits – in good shape, scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Arizona and New Mexico and their colleagues in Mexico are collaborating in a unique new project. The scientists want to make two different decision-making aids easy and convenient for ranchers to use when they sit down at a computer to update and revise their ranch management plans.

One of the aids is a computerized model that ARS hydrologist Jeffry J. Stone and others in ARS are building.

Pronounced "modes," the multi-objective decision support system (MODSS) helps ranchers look objectively at options for solving land-management problems. In turn, specialists at USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service are working to computerize their resource planning model. Called SWAPA+H, it's pronounced "swap- uh" and stands for "soil, water, air, plant, and animal resources plus humans."

Ideally, ranchers would use SWAPA+H to learn of practical solutions to any conservation-related problems on their rangelands, such as erosion or decline of a plant species that's a favorite with livestock. After that, they would turn to MODSS to look at and weigh the possible impact of each potential solution on each of the natural resources covered in the SWAPA+H model.

MODSS is already computerized. Plans call for computerizing SWAPA+H, too, so that it could be downloaded from the Internet. The current issue of the ARS monthly journal, Agricultural Research, tells more. It can be viewed online at

For more information, contact Jeffry J. Stone, ARS Southwest Watershed Research Unit, at 520/670-6380, ext. 146, or e-mail [email protected].

Source: Agricultural Research Service News

The Latest Developments in U.S. Food Regulation

*FMD resources