After spending several days traveling around Uruguay  and learning about the country’s agriculture industry as part of the 2013 IFAJ pre-Congress tour, I was eager to learn even more from its neighbor Argentina.
About 200 ag journalists and professionals from around the world convened in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sept. 1 to kick off the main event of the IFAJ Congress. After experiencing the pre-tour in Uruguay with only a small group of 20 journalists, it was incredible to see the larger group come together. Our role as communicators who are telling the story of agriculture seems to be more important than ever as our world population grows so quickly. The number of us there at the Congress from so many different countries was a real testament to that.
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The highlight of the Congress for me was during the day where all 200 of us split up into four different tours that took off from our second stop in Rosario, which was about a three hour drive from Buenos Aires. The tour options were: Grain, Dairy, Livestock and a city tour of Rosario. I chose the grain tour, and the events that ensued throughout the day opened up my mind and my understanding about the industry’s impact both on Argentina and in the world.
It didn’t take long for us to discover that the soybean market dominates the ag industry in Argentina, but corn and wheat are also important crops. Our first stop of the day was at a no-till farm where co-owner Adrian Criolani explained the importance of their rotation of all three of those crops. He told us that crop rotation is a major concern in Argentina for maintaining soil fertility. Criolani is part of a growing group of farmers called Aapresid in Argentina promoting soil management issues.
Our next stop was at Profertil, one of the leaders in the Argentine fertilizer industry, at their Puerto General San Martin location just 40 miles outside Rosario. We toured the company’s massive granular urea facility, where they store the largest piles of urea I have ever seen. The facility has a storage capacity of 200,000 tons of granular urea, and Pablo Pussetto, the Commercial Manager, gave us an idea on just how widespread the company’s impact is on Argentina and neighboring markets.
The day came to a close as we arrived at Terminal 6, the hub of the agriculture industry in Argentina strategically located on the Parana River. There we saw where much of Argentina’s 50 million tons of soybeans are processed and distributed every year. Argentina is the world’s number one soy meal and soy oil global exporter, and we saw first hand just how they’re able to do it at Terminal 6 with their technologically advanced and extremely efficient soy crushing facilities. The country’s 41 soy crushing plants have a capacity of 20,000 tons compared to the U.S., where our 70 soy crushing facilities have a 6,500 ton capacity.
The people who taught us about Argentina’s grain industry throughout the day were welcoming and eager to tell their stories. And it was clear they each had very important stories to tell as Argentina holds such a vital position in the world’s agriculture market.
Stay tuned  for more of my coverage from our travels throughout Uruguay and Argentina as I post more blogs, photo galleries and videos in the coming weeks.