MCGA Agvocate learns about world agriculture in trip to Argentina

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

About seventy current and former state FFA officers spent a week traveling in Argentina to learn about its agriculture and who it accesses world commodity markets.

Derek Mulhern, a former FFA state officer now serving as a Minnesota Corn Growers Association Agvocate (Advocate for Agriculture), found the weeklong trip to be very informative, and to fit with his goal of learning about global agricultural systems and perhaps working in government aid programs to farmers in the developing world.

“We went to see are larger scale family farm and found that it was very similar to the U.S.–the only difference is that they have two seasons of corn. The first has a September start and ends in late December or January, and then the second corn planting happens at the end of November and those acres grow through to March or April,” said Mulhern. “They have winter wheat or other crops. When we were there (January 5-12) the soybeans were drying. They were planted in October. The midsection of Argentina is very similar to Nebraska and the Corn Belt in the United States. What surprised me was that they don’t have as good a transportation infrastructure by road and rail from the farm to market. It is a lot more costly and it’s not really sufficient to their production. However, once they got their product to the export terminal they had a very efficient means of accessing global markets. U.S. grows more soybeans, but between crushing and oil and other products, Argentina is the number one soy exporter in the world.”

The group of young people toured agricultural research stations, working family corn and soybean operations, a sheep farm, a cattle sale and grain terminals in Buenos Aires operated by Minnesota companies, Cargill and Bunge. The trip was sponsored by FFA star partners and state organizations, with the students themselves paying part of their way.

“The trip showed me a lot more of ag from an international standpoint,” said Mulhern. “Sometimes I can get frustrated by U.S. ag policies so it is interesting to hear how other countries handle farm support and compare systems. This has interested me in foreign ag services. I am intrigued and I want to get more exposure, see what’s out there. I love traveling, I love going abroad, and working for government or for one of the private companies like Cargill or Bunge would a very interesting career option.”

MCGA began its Agvocate program in 2010, and Mulhern is one of the first four such students who serve as ambassadors who communicate with the public about the value of corn production and agriculture in general. In exchange, they receive leadership training, networking opportunities and a college scholarship. Mulhern is a junior at the University of Minnesota, studying agricultural education with an emphasis in communication and leadership development. These four agvocates will continue to communicate on behalf of Minnesota Corn Growers until May 31 of this year.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: