Members of Iowa’s largest grassroots farm organization toured Poland, in efforts to understand agriculture from a global perspective.
The Iowa Farm Bureau began its fifth Market Study Tour in Poland June 26. David Miller is the Director of Research and Commodity Services for the Iowa Farm Bureau. Miller said approximately 25 Iowa farmers participated in this year’s Market Study Tour.
“The farmers are looking at a number of aspects of Polish agriculture, and are getting a better understanding of agriculture in Europe, such as some of the trade issues Poland is having after entering the EU in 2004 and the potential of trade with the EU and United States,” Miller said.
Miller said the tour provides for a better understanding of competition, and issues surrounding trade negotiation in Europe.
“Poland is an interesting market, in that they joined the EU,” Miller said. “They have seen their export opportunities expand significantly, but they struggle in some areas, particularly in pork production.”
Poland’s pork production has suffered due to the significant amount of feeder pigs they are receiving out of Denmark. However, Miller noted Poland has emerged as a fruit and vegetable producer by serving Europe, as well as many parts of the Middle East and increasingly in China.
Miller said he was impressed with what bit of Polish agriculture he had witnessed.
“One of the large vegetable markets in Warsaw gets produce from 2,000 farms in Poland, and packages the products for wholesale distribution. (The production is) very impressive in terms of the state-of-the-art technology and scale. One of the things that was surprising is that parts of Poland are probably more innovative and more accepting of technology than what we probably came here with in terms of pre-conceptions.”
Throughout the tour, Iowa farmers visited with the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service, Ministry of Agriculture of Poland, several commodity groups, as well as several cattle, hog, fruit and vegetable producers. The group also visited an apple orchard, run by a 35-year-old farmer, which established a $2.5 million state-of-the-art apple-processing cooperative 6 years ago.