Collaboration is at the center of the mission of the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
A recent study abroad trip to Argentina showcased that collaboration and its importance.
MU Extension specialists Ray Massey and Ryan Milhollin led a group of 10 students who traveled to Argentina to learn more about the agricultural landscape. Representatives from the Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council joined the team as well. Not only did the two organizations provide their presence during the trip, they provided financial help to all of the students involved.
“It’s quite unique to have those representatives with us,” Massey said. “We’re trying to foster that relationship. We were fortunate that both groups were interested and willing to assist us. We’re hopeful that this collaboration can continue into the future.”
The host institution for the trip was Bolsa de Cereales, which has ties to the grain and oilseed industries in Argentina. The group heard from other key Argentine institutions as well.
“Bolsa de Cereales is the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange, the oldest commercial institution in Argentina,” Massey said. “Throughout the week, there was a mix of classroom learning and on-site business tours in Buenos Aires and the surrounding countryside. The emphasis was on learning the agricultural policies and markets of Argentina. We looked at the different resources available to farmers.”
The goal of the trip was to showcase the value chain of bringing something all the way from the farm to the end user. The students learned about the processes that crops go through to get to the consumer.
“We wanted to do this in Argentina so that we could get a different perspective,” Milhollin said. “Argentina is a great platform. They are a great commodity producer and exporter.”
Topics covered included learning about the history of Argentine agriculture, the current economic situation in the South American country and its agricultural policies. The group also visited the Louis Dreyfus Company offices in General Lagos, which is a soybean crush plant that produces biodiesel. LDC is one of Argentina’s largest companies.
“The CAFNR study abroad trip to Argentina has not only been a truly educational experience, but has allowed us all to develop strong bonds with our peers and the people we’ve met here in Buenos Aires,” said Maria Kuhns, a sophomore majoring in agribusiness management. “Our world views have been expanded and we’ve stepped outside of our comfort zone. As I head back to MU, I’m confident that this experience will serve me well in my studies through not only the knowledge I’ve gained about international agriculture, but also the thought processes I use every day. Before studying abroad, I was unaware of what I was missing by not having an international perspective.”
Students were also able to take in the culture of Argentina. They traveled to the Iguazu Falls, the largest falls in the Americas. They also took tango lessons and performed at two different tango venues alongside Argentines.
“One of the benefits of this, in addition to learning about economics and business, is learning about the culture,” Massey said. “That’s important for these students as they head into the workplace.”
Of the 10 students who took the trip, six were agribusiness management majors. Students from the Division of Animal Sciences, the Division of Plant Sciences, and the geography department in the College of Arts and Science were also on the trip.
This is the first year of the program.
“There was no South American business education opportunity in CAFNR,” Massey said. “There are some South American trips, but they deal more with equipment. We wanted to look at the business aspects of South America.
“As the maiden voyage, we expect things to change year to year. We’re hoping that we can build on this trip in the future.”
Matthew Amick, director of grower services with Missouri Corn, and Tony Stafford, director of business development with Missouri Soybeans, traveled with the CAFNR group.
Stafford earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture business from Missouri State University and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Mizzou. Stafford had worked in a variety of roles with the Missouri Department of Agriculture before becoming the director of business development.
“MoSoy has a long-standing relationship with CAFNR and is honored to be part of the program,” Stafford said.
Amick has served as the director of grower services for nearly three years. He has worked with the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council since 2011. Amick earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo.
“Our three organizations work hand-in-hand very often, so this is a natural fit,” Amick said. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Missouri Soybeans and CAFNR to provide assistance to the students to have this experience. We are confident the students will take the knowledge learned in Argentina and apply it to their studies and future careers to benefit themselves and the agricultural industry as a whole.”
A blog was kept throughout the trip, with several pictures attached of the trip.
Registration is currently open for summer and semester study abroad programs.