Genetics, grass and grain were top of mind for my Saturday morning, as I was invited to tag along with an Australian tour group that was visiting Sydenstricker Genetics, just minutes from our offices in Missouri.
A mix of cattle and grain farmers, the group took to the pasture. Ben and Darla Eggers, managers of the farm, shared about genetic technology advancements, Missouri’s fescue pastures and bull development.
"There were lots of questions about the performance that we expect here on a purebred operation," Ben Eggers says. "They were very complimentary about seeing cattle with good frame size."
About half the group were cattlemen and visited with Ben and wife Darla about grazing systems and the differences between forage types.
After touring the Sydenstricker Genetics cattle operation and Sydenstricker’s Mexico, Mo., John Deere dealership, the tour stopped for lunch at the county fair down the road.
The Aussie farmers I visited with were very inquisitive—asking about how the 4-H and other youth programs were funded and what brings farm kids back to the rural areas. I shared about the Farm Bureau young farmer programs, other local networking opportunities and some of the ideas from other U.S. farmers have shared through the Farm Journal Legacy Project. One new offering from Farm Journal Media is the Top Producer Executive Network.
Grain handling was also a hot topic for the Australians.
Grain marketing is different for Australians, in that most farmers sell their grain to a trading house, who then in turn sells it to a processor. One farmer asked if American farmers have the problem of not getting paid when the grain is traded to a middleman. While there have been some cases of that, I shared that most U.S. farmers contract with and deliver grain directly to grain elevators or processors.
He admitted to downloading the AgWeb phone app just moments before and watched as I pulled up the contract prices for the local elevators.
Across the table, another farmer shared a concern, which many of his neighbors also share, about the ADM purchase of GrainCorp, which will give ADM control of seven ports on Australia’s east coast—where 90% of the region’s grain is exported. While Cargill and other international companies have invested in Australian agriculture, the farmers are worried the purchase will give ADM a monopoly of the Australian wheat market.
Nearly 35 Australians made the trip to the U.S. Other stops included a tour of the Moline, Ill., John Deere factory and a tour of the Caterpillar factory.