Wyo exchanges ideas with Argentine ranchers
Denver, Colo. — “Our main focus is a cultural exchange of the different countries, comparing how we manage and deal with farming and ranching issues,” said Tomas Gibelli of the Neuquen Province in Argentina while attending the 2009 International Livestock Congress in Denver, Colo.
Gibelli, along with three other beef producers from Argentina, were in the U.S. to develop contacts with Wyoming seedstock producers through Scott Keith of the Wyoming Business Council.
“We’re setting the foundation for future business,” said Gibelli, indicating importing genetics from Wyoming would be an interesting exchange because their part of the country is behind in seedstock development. “In our country the genetics are very focused in areas of the country, and we’d like to spread them more evenly,” he said.
Keith chose the Patagonia region of Argentina because it closely resembles the Wyoming landscape, where Gibelli and Joaquin Ferreria are from, while Carlos Vila Moret is from the Buenos Aires Province and Luis Miguel Etchevehere is from the Entre Rios Province in the Mesopotamia Region.
Because different zones of Argentina are currently under different statuses for disease, those in Patagonia were pushed to bring in artificial insemination and embryo transplants, which Gibelli said “opened the world.”
“With an embryo we’re not restrained by having to transport livestock nearby, and that’s one of the things we want to exchange with the people from Wyoming,” said Gibelli.
“If we’re 30 years behind in genetics, we’re 100 years behind in politics, lobbying and farm organizations,” said Gibelli. “That’s, I think, something we Argentine farmers have to learn through very rough lessons. I think that’s the main lesson we take every time we come to America – how organized institutions are to defend their own partners.”
Gibelli said the exchange of visits is good for the relationships between the ranchers of both countries, because they have a lot of things in common. “The way we feel and the food production in both countries is the same,” he said. “We have a big responsibility to feed the world. America and Argentina have the possibility to produce food for millions of people. In our case we have the possibility to feed 400 million people, and we are only at 40 million.”
“This kind of exchange between the ranchers of both countries improves relationships and allows us to see different ways of producing and defending our rights against governments that don’t understand what we do and against the other groups of the community that think we are in the wrong, like the environmentalists,” he continued. “We know that, over everything, we are probably the most interested sector in taking care of the natural resources as well as producing and doing what we do, because we are producing food for the people. For us this is very important.”
Luis Miguel Etchevehere said he’s very impressed with the organization in the U.S.
Joaquin Ferreria is a vet in Argentina who has worked with an animal health expert in his province for 10 years. “The veterinary sciences in his province are far behind, so he’s picking up new technologies here,” said Keith. Among their stops in Colorado and Wyoming the group planned to visit the University of Wyoming in Laramie and SAREC at Lingle.
“Joaquin’s also very interested in embryo transfer, so we’re looking for an exchange opportunity for him to come spend a while with an embryo technician here so he can learn those skills and take them back with him,” said Keith. “It would also create a relationship and a trust between the people here and the people there.”
“Patagonia is the size of Montana and Wyoming combined, and there are only 20 pedigreed bulls in the whole zone,” said Gibelli. “Our province has less than 10 percent of the cattle that Wyoming has, and it can only grow. We want to grow in quality and provide registered purebred cattle to whoever needs them.”
Currently Patagonia is 95 percent Hereford, with very few Angus. “We want to be there when the change happens, and if someone needs a pedigree bull they can get it there rather than buying an embryo and waiting three years,” noted Gibelli.
“One of the things we want to do with these trips is be able to begin setting the foundation for an exchange of knowledge so people can come learn in Wyoming and we hope we can offer something to people from Wyoming,” said Gibelli.
Because this trip’s focus was specifically on genetics the group spent time at the National Western Stock Show, where it’s easier to pinpoint the focus of genetics. “They don’t get to see how they’re raised or who works with them, but they get to see the people and the genetics themselves in the show cattle,” said Keith. “That’s the reason for the invitation for them to come this time of year to the National Western rather than seeing a whole different part of the program in June on a ranch.”
Carlos Vila Moret said he thanks Wyoming for the invitation to come visit the state. “We invite the Wyoming ranchers to visit Argentina. Many of them have already come and we have good memories of those visits.”
Currently Keith says there’s not another trip planned for Wyoming producers. “The opportunity to travel depends on funding resources,” he said. Funding for the exchanges comes from the United States Livestock Genetics Export membership, which is funded by USDA’s Foreign Ag Service Market Access Program. He says if funding is available he expects the next trip to Argentina will be in July or early August to attend the Palermo Cattle Show in Buenos Aires, while producers from Argentina will likely visit again in May or June.
Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.