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U.S. farmers are relaxed, Argentina farmers say

Agriculture.com Staff 01/22/2007 @ 1:52pm

ENTRE RIOS, Argentina -- With a main house and office building for the farm manager and staff, many guest homes, all centered around green acres, palm trees, an outdoor grill pit and a large swimming pool, the setting clearly felt like the "Bonanza" of farms.

The "Bonanza" was being used to bring together U.S. and Argentina farmers to discuss their similarities and differences in raising soybeans.

Estancia "Las Cabezas," the official name of this farm, means "farming the heads." Dr. Livio Ferruzzi serves as manager of this farm, and also manages farms located in Paraguay and Italy. All of the farms are owned by an Italian company that was unnamed.

Because Argentina farmers, belonging to four different politically-driven groups, remain divided and without a voice in their own government, Ferruzzi is promoting an association much like the American Soybean Association. Ferruzzi is also promoting a soybean checkoff.

"The world is getting small, so we need to share thoughts on how to promote the idea of working together amongst ourselves but also with the U.S. producers," Ferruzzi said.

In general, the producers from each country discussed environmental issues, government relations, paying Roundup Ready technology fees, production costs, transitioning the farm from father-to-son, farm loan rates, exports, acquiring land and forming an association.

Domingo Maioco, a local farmer with 18,000 acres of soybeans, said the U.S. farmer is much more protected by its government.

"We cannot project the future like the U.S. farmer," Maioco said. "Your infrastructure is better. Farmers here want to move to the city because our government won't build roads and schools in the country."

Maioco added, "We look forward to working with the U.S. farmer on some of the hurdles we all face such as world soybean exports. Even without government support, we will advance on this relationship."

American Soybean Association chairman Bob Metz told the Argentina farmers the relationship with the government didn't happen overnight.

"As producers, we have pooled our money to become powerful at state and national levels," Metz said. "We get strength from numbers, not one-on-one."

Roberto Spahn, a local 13,000-acre soybean producer, said the Argentina producers have a long way to go to gain unity.

"Two weeks ago, we staged a strike against the government," Spahn said. "But, some producers still sold soybeans. "It didn't matter that we were holding a farmer strike."

The main problem remains that most farmers believe they can't afford to pay dues to belong to an association, Spahn said.

  • Because of higher prices, the Argentina farmers estimated a 10% increase in corn acres
  • All new soybean varieties come from the U.S., unlike in Brazil, where farmers have their own varieties
  • In Argentina, soybean producers pay $15.00 per bag for Roundup Ready beans, compared to a $32.00 per bag in the U.S.
  • Argentina government is not allowing trees to bet cut down for clearing of land in at least one northern province in northern Argentina
  • Argentina's 27% tax on soybean exports helps subsidize biodiesel prices for farmers
  • Roundup Ready and no-till farming practices has boosted soybean acres in Argentina
  • 50% of the crop is used to pay rent or loan payments in Argentina
  • Rent is $260/hectare on average
  • To buy land, prices vary between $4,000 to $8,000 per hectare
  • Farmers are not investing in biodiesel because multinational companies such as Bunge, and Cargill are investing in it
  • Argentina farmers perceive the U.S. farmer as relaxed, aware of his or her future, friendly and far ahead of European and Russian technology
  • U.S. producer gets paid $6.50 per bushel for soybeans; a typical Argentina producer receives $150/ton after taxes
  • In Argentina, most farmers live off of 1,000 acres. Smaller farmers rent to bigger ones
  • In Argentina, one percent of the population are farmers, compared to two percent in the U.S.


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