Australia….the rest of the trip!

Before I share the rest of the trip, I’d like to share some of my thoughts.

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Australia is a big country, comparable to the US in size of the land mass. But way fewer people. The US has about 325.7 million to only 24.13 million people in Australia. About a fourth of the population of Australia was not born there, or about six million people. I thought this was a big number until I researched the US to find out we have forty million people not born here. That is more than the total population of Australia!

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Most farms in Australia are large. Farming and ranching are extremely difficult. The weather can be extreme, to wet, to dry. Financing is difficult, 30 to 50% down makes it difficult to get started. But this is understandable with the risk. All of the farmers talked about very little support from the government. But the estate planning was much simpler. No estate or capital gains tax to close relatives.

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In Iowa, we pretty much do not change what we grow. We are spoiled with a good network of infrastructure and markets. In Australia, crops are grown for what they anticipate to be the best market. Every year can be a different crop. Most are exported to Asia.  They must anticipate what imports those countries will allow. Chickpeas had been a profitable crop the last two years, but now India had slapped on a sixty percent tariff.

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Water tanks everywhere collecting from rooftops

Everywhere we went, rainwater was collected. From rooftops funneled into tanks, or creeks into holding basins……..water was very precious! We drove by a huge lake20180309_153950 that had gone dry in the eighties! As we were leaving Australia, we were being told of the floods up north, and since we have been home, I keep getting pictures of the devastation those floods are causing.

 

 

And now for the rest of the story……….

We visited a winery and we enjoyed a little wine tasting. (Always a requirement)

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We also visited a small dairy, that had added a plant to process milk. He was also buying the milk from five area dairy farms, giving them a market.

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Before we flew back to Sydney, we had a couple of interesting presentations from two group, the Grain Research Development Group. This is a group similar to our commodity groups. They do research and development with the check-off dollars. In the last two years, they spent $198 million on projects. The National Farmers Federation is a group similar to our Farm Bureau. They are like an umbrella group over the commodity organizations.

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We did enjoy some sights in Canberra. Canberra is the Capitol of Australia, and we visited Parliament House. And there was an amazing peak above to look down on the city. From this advantage point, we even observed some of the wildlife. Many kangaroos, and exotic birds
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To end this adventure to Australia, we flew from Canberra back to Sydney. We visited a bank, the Stock Exchange, and saw many beautiful sites. I’ll let the pictures, most of which you will recognize, finish this blog.

 

 

Hope you enjoy………I did!!

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I don’t think I’m buying it, Brian
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Fine dining at the Parliament House

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Amazing Australia

What do a bunch of Iowa farmers do on a trip to Australia………..visit farms and a whole lot more!

This past week, I had the pleasure of accompanying twenty-five other Iowans on a farm market study tour. We covered the eastern third of the country, where crops would grow. The vast middle of Australia is desert. Most people live within fifty miles of the coast, and most farming is in a circle around the outside of the continent.Australia Map

On this trip, after leaving Iowa at 2pm on Friday, we used three flights to get to Brisbane sometime Sunday afternoon. Still being sleep deprived, I’m very fuzzy about what time we arrived on that afternoon. What felt like, and appears to be two days, was because Brisbane is 15 hours ahead of Iowa time. We really were in the “future”! When I would message with Janice in Iowa, at 6am Monday morning, it was 1pm Sunday afternoon on her clock. Most of the trip, I wasn’t sure what day it was………much less what time.

We visited a research center, where they were studying soybeans. A very little grown crop in Australia. Sugarcane was the main crop grown in this area, but soybeans are being looked at for rotation of crops.

We toured an export terminal owned by Graincorp, which was pretty much sitting idle.

We traveled around Darling Downs, a premier crop growing area. The crops are very diverse, and this area was most like Iowa. We had the privilege to attend a reception, thrown for us by my friend, Meg Kummerow. Meg brought in many of her neighbors near the town of Toowoomba. The sharing of stories and ideas by Australian and Iowan farmers was a highlight of this trip for me!Meg & LarryMeg's BBQ

Some corn is grown in the Darling Downs area for feeding cattle. We toured an eighteen thousand head cattle feeding operation that specialized in Wagyu cattle.

We flew to the city of Canberra, the nation’s capital next. We visited many beautiful sites including parliament.

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From Canberra, we traveled by bus back to Sydney. On the way, we stopped at a dairy farm that had been transformed to include processing of the milk. This farmer prided himself in selling his “story”. Back in Sydney with saw amazing sites like the Opera House, The Bridge over Sydney Harbor, and had a great tour and lunch with the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly representing the Tweed area. Three days in Sydney and twelve days for this trip was, not enough time.

I will be giving presentations on this trip, but I’m thinking it would take several hours to tell. The same with blogging. I’m not going to write a “book” here and now. This will take several blogs covering different stops along our route. There is a Facebook page devoted to this trip. Go to Iowa Farm Bureau Market Study Tours, and ask to join. You will find a wealth of information and great pictures on this page………even some great videos.

I’ll share more about this trip in my next few blogs.