Agriculture journalists from around the world were in Morris on Wednesday, July 31 as part of a four-day tour of public and private ag facilities in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota.
The group included journalists from Australia, Switzerland, Finland, Germany, and The Netherlands, along with colleagues from the United States. The tour was organized through the International Federation of Agriculture Journalists (IFAJ), following the organization's annual Congress in Bloomington, Minnesota earlier in the week.
The group toured Riverview LLP Wednesday morning and stopped for lunch at Stone’s Throw Cafe.
Over lunch, two of the participants, Johann Mueller of Switzerland and Sjoerd Hofstee of The Netherlands, shared a few thoughts about their visit.
Both commented on the size of the dairy, noting that they found the large scale farm intriguing. Mueller noted that an average farm in Switzerland is 20-25 hectares, or about 60 acres. They were also struck by the dairy’s relationship with its stakeholders and neighbors.
Despite the obvious difference in scale, Mueller said that there are some common issues. He said that farmers in Switzerland are also struggling with the question of immigration. “What do you do when the local people don’t want to do the work?”
Hofstee, who is the son of a dairy farmer, agreed, saying that whatever the size of the farm, there’s always the question of who’s going to milk the cows.
Both Mueller and Hofstee said they would be writing about their travels. Hofstee said, “The U.S. is really interesting for us.”
This is only the second time the IFAJ has held their annual Congress in the United States.
Mueller has participated in the IFAJ Congress 32 times. He commented that not everyone is publishing international agriculture stories, but he feels that it’s important to get a world view and share it with his readers.