Friday – January 26
Leave Miami International Airport on American Flight 991 at 11:15 p.m. (Plane ride #1)
Saturday – January 27
Arrive Buenos Aires International Airport at about 10:00 a.m.
Clear Customs and meet Hans Kristensen, Tour Director. Board bus for 30 minutes 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 2nd 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 pounds 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.
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For 2002 Travel Plans to South America see: www.kitt-travel.com