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Boyer tells Rotarians of Ukraine trip

By Staff | Mar 14, 2014

Could be that Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine just because he was hungry for some nice, fresh bread?

Well, that probably wouldn’t be a bad place to find it.

Dubbing Ukraine the “bread basket of Europe”, Jim Boyer of rural Ringsted, who traveled with other Iowa Farm Bureau members to that country last June 22 to July 5, told Estherville Rotarians Thursday about what he learned during the trip and the role Ukraine might have in world agriculture. During his 10 days there, Boyer met with the Ukrainian ag minister and had a up-close look at agriculture production half a world away.

Boyer said the Texas-sized country is dominated by large farms. Most of the production capital comes from Ukraine, Russia and Europe.

One surprise Boyer found was how efficiently machinery was used. There is also a lot of diversification, with five to six crops on the average farm. Fields can reach up to 2,500 acres and double crops such as winter wheat or rapeseed are common. Despite that, there are administrative and labor inefficiencies.

Boyer said Ukraine grows 1.2 billion bushels a year – about half of Iowa’s production, and the country exports about 750 million bushels. Ukraine grows 750 million bushels of wheat, about a third produced in the US, with 350 million bushels exported.

Boyer showed photos of gumbo farm-to-market roads most grain travels over to market since there’s little storage.

Ukraine’s strength as an ag-producing country comes from its large-scale farms but roads and infrastructure, land policy, weather, social customs and an anti-GMO policy in Europe are challenges.