Latin Americans Visit SD Farms
by Jeff Rusack, Reporter
October 14, 2013 5:27 PM
South Dakota looked and felt like South Dakota in the fall, and no one could tell you that more than the handful of Latin Americans touring a Bridgewater farm.
“It's pretty bad. I was feeling the rain drops like needles because of the wind,” said Rafael Colmenares who works for a Venezuelan feed company.
While the weather will send them back to their equatorial countries with a story, they're also taking a look at how grains travel to their businesses.
“This particular team is visiting South Dakota and then we'll go down to Missouri and up in New Orleans where we'll see the export terminals. That’s where the grain is being loaded onto the ships that will go to their countries,” said Kurt Shultz of the U.S. Grain Council.
These Latin American delegates work for different feed companies and in order to stay in business, they import.
In Venezuela we use a lot of imported raw materials, especially from the U.S.,” added Colmenares.
Officials from the South Dakota Corn Growers Association say a pair of warm and dry summers limited business between the Americas.
“In the last few years the crop in South Dakota and especially in America has been short and our prices have really been high and that has really eroded our demand over the last few years,” said Mark Gross, the president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association.
The hope is to build trust and new business relationships.
“Show them our production practices and how much corn we can produce in America and South Dakota and how our goal is to help feed the world,” said Gross.
“The objective of my visit here is to get to know the local producers,” said Colmenares.
And continue a long history of agricultural trade.
“Latin America has been and has always been a very consistent buyer of U.S. grains and in particular corn for their feed industry,” said Shultz.
While a cold wind welcomes these folks from Latin America, they hope the warm hospitality from farmers will get business back and running in North and South America.