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WATERLOO — A Brazilian contingent is spending time at Northeast Iowa farms and agriculture-related businesses after visits to Illinois and Minnesota.

The group of 12 includes professors, students, farmers, agronomists and business people. The visitors, part of a long-running international exchange, are being hosted by Hawkeye Community College’s Global Agriculture Learning Center.

Group members first went to the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill., and then spent three days in Iowa before going to the Minnesota State Fair over the Labor Day weekend. They arrived back in Iowa Monday night and will fly out from Chicago on Saturday. While in Northeast Iowa, among the businesses they have visited are Lanehaven Farms, John Deere Waterloo Works, FS AgVantage in Waverly, Meyer Agri-Air in Wellsburg and Big River Resources ethanol plant in Dyersville.

Brad Kinsinger, director of the HCC center, said as part of the effort to learn about agricultural practices Hawkeye takes students to Brazil every March, aided by the college’s foundation. The trips grew out of a more extensive exchange from 2009 to 2014 that also involved the University of Northern Iowa, Kirkwood Community College and two Brazilian universities.

“We exchanged students for a semester studying abroad,” said Juarez de Oliveira Jr., a professor at Universidade Federal Goias, with the help of a grant program. However, the grant funds were limited to five years.

“Even though the grant ended, we felt like it was very important to keep that program going,” said Kinsinger, so the college started the March trips.

“We are very interested in keeping the partnership,” said Jose Marcio Carvalho, a Universidade de Brasilia professor. It’s “very good” the effort is “not dependent on budget.” “The visits of Hawkeye students in Brazil is also very beneficial for us.”

A lot of knowledge is gathered by all participants during the visits, added Kinsinger.

“Every time we visit a farm, an ethanol facility, they ask questions,” he noted. “But we’re also learning from them while they’re here.”

The students, farmers and business people were eager to share some of their observations — translated from Portuguese by de Oliveira.

“It’s very important to know how you manage the agribusiness inside the farm,” said Alessandra Lima Decicino, an agronomist. “Women are very important for agriculture businesses here, just like in Brazil.”

Rodrigo Aires Pereira, owner of Ceres Agrobusiness, has many contacts with farmers and has made the trip to the U.S. three times.

“It’s always good for him to know what’s going on here,” said de Oliveira, because Aires Pereira can share the information with his farmer customers. “They are very anxious to know what’s going on here.”

Nathan Moura Vieira do Carmo, a farmer and university student, called attention to the technology Americans have in sprayers and other farm machinery.

“In Brazil, we don’t have people working in agriculture prepared to receive all the technology you have here,” he said. Many farms operate with a lot of hired hands that may not have the background of farmers who own the operations.

Rafael Neiva e Lemos, a farmer and owner of Pioneira Agrobusiness, noted that learning about the technology in use on U.S. farms has great value for his company, which is always striving to stay ahead of its competitors.

“The technology that they use here will take two or more years to arrive in Brazil,” he said. “It’s very important to know first.”

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