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CHARLES CITY, IA – Besides the Midwest, some of the best farmland is located in Eastern Europe around the black sea.
Some north Iowa farmers got a unique opportunity to travel there and learn about farming techniques on the other side of the world.
“We went over there to basically learn as much as we could in a short period of time.”
Erwin Johnson just got back from a trip he’ll never forget. Johnson and 16 other Iowa farmers had the opportunity to travel to the Ukraine and Romania to find out how farming techniques in those places, compare to what’s happening in Iowa.
One of the major goals was to scope out the competition.
“The basic conclusion to the whole trip is they are very competitive, their cost structure is lower than ours, in the global economy whoever has the lowest cost production has a decided advantage over those that have a higher cost,” he says.
The main reason for that is land costs in the Midwest are much more than they are in places like the Ukraine and Romania.
Another thing Johnson found out about farms overseas is they harvest a lot more crops than most farms around here do.
“They’ll harvest their barley, then their wheat, then their oil seed products, which are canola and sunflower and then they’re running their machines for almost non stop for 3-4 months.”
He says that kind of machine efficiency is something that he personally would like to strive for.
Johnson took a lot away from his trip to Europe and even plans on making some changes to his own farm.
“We’re hoping to look at multiple crops not just corn and soybeans and thus, we might expand our hay a little bit, I’d like to look at small grains, I know the markets are not that great here but there’s got to be some niches that we can fit ourselves into.”
The trip was funded by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. Iowa farmers like Johnson applied for the trip, and 17 were chosen.