By Daren Coppock, President & CEO
Agricultural Retailers Association
In early May, I had the privilege of representing Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) in two international meetings – the BioAg Global conference in Brazil and Congreso de Distribuidores del Agro (CDA) in Argentina. It’s always instructive to share information with international peers.
Ag Retail Insights from Brazil
BAW Congress 2023 provided a unique platform to discuss the most sensitive topics in the BioAg Industry and reinstated the importance to choose BioAg and move towards sustainability. The BioAg World Congress is a gathering of companies and investors in the biological product space. Host nation Brazil is the fastest-growing market for ag biologicals in the world with a growth rate of 28 percent compared to 10 percent in the USA and the global average. Established players and startups from all corners of the world comprised a crowd of around 1000 people from 75+ countries.
I participated in a panel discussion with two academicians, one private company agronomist and two farmers, one from southern Brazil and one from Mozambique, to address the topic of getting farmers interested in biologicals. Some of these products have trickier handling, storage, and application requirements than conventional pesticides or fertilizers.
The main point I made in the panel, with strong support from both farmers, is that the farmers don’t have time or expertise to evaluate all the biological product options available. Farmers must rely on advice and support of an ag retailer to take care of those challenges, pointing to a recently released study on farmers’ perceptions on biologicals. The study found that 88% farmers trust the agronomists or Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) provided by their ag retail partner.
Looking at the important role of AgTech and Precision agriculture in making agriculture sustainable, moving forward BAW Congress has been renamed to BioAgTech World Congress. BAW Congress 2024 is being organised in Raleigh, NC in collaboration with NC Technology Institute from April 26th to April 29th. Anyone who is engaged in biological products should strongly consider attending BAW Congress 2024.
Argentina’s Inaugural Ag Distribution Meeting
The CDA meeting in Buenos Aires was the first gathering of the agricultural and distribution channel in Argentina ever, and 1,400 people participated in this inaugural meeting.
Topics on the agenda were familiar:
• trends toward the industry’s future,
• logistics and the last mile,
• new business models and partnerships, and
• a company CEO panel.
Argentina is a beautiful country with great people, vibrant culture, awesome food, resourceful businesses, and a completely incompetent government that makes their lives more difficult at every turn. Companies can’t access dollars they need to import goods due to strict currency controls. The government taxes exported soybeans at over 30 percent. When I was there in May, inflation was running at 100 percent; as of early August it was up to 150 percent. Some stores have switched to quoting prices in US dollars to avoid changing their peso prices; they just do the math at point of sale to calculate the price in pesos. All of this is on top of the challenges all retailers and distributors faced with supply chain in the last two years.
International Insights at ARA Conference
Representatives from global ag retailer peers in Brazil, Argentina and Canada will attend this year’s ARA Conference & Expo and will be speaking in the closing session on Thursday, Nov. 30.
The panelists will share their stories operating in somewhat different political environments and languages than we do, but many of the challenges and solutions are the same. We have an opportunity to learn from and collaborate with each other for mutual benefit. I encourage ARA members to seek them out at the ARA Conference in Orlando and get to know them better. You can take the first step in that process by
registering for the conference at www.aradc.org/conference.