|Sunflower seed is loaded on a barge, while another|
barge sails up river on the Danube.
This facility was originally built to handle "interventional" grain—stocks of corn, sunflowers and rapeseed that would be parceled our (or stored) in response to market conditions as a way to control prices—similar to the warehouse reserve program in the U.S. The Hungarian program no longer exists, so the facility is now privately managed.
|An employee watches as sunflower seed|
is dumped at the barge facility.
We hopped on the bus and headed to the farm owned and managed by Ferenc Miko, the farmer we learned of yesterday at the Dekalb/Monsanto facility. Ferenc won his nation's corn yield contest last year with 302 bushels per acre on non-irrigated land (and with no GMO hybrids). He made it a point to let us all know that only seven winners in the NCGA corn yield contest beat his 302-bushel achievement.
|Ferenc Miko discusses his|
impressive farm operation.
He made sure that every farmer in our group shared his average yields—clearly with the intent to further underscore the fact that his record yield was better than that of some America's best farmers.
He has quite a gig going here. He uses subcontractors to farm the land—and he essentially serves as a kind of "cooperative" for other farmers in the area. He buys inputs in bulk and resells them at a competitive price to his neighbors. He sells and markets grain—and even gets Cargill to pay him to store grain! (Corn prices are based on both CBOT and Budapest.)
|Members of the team tour Ferenc|
Miko's on-farm grain storage facility.
|Deb Keller of Iowa inspects|
sunflower seed in Ferenc Miko's
grain storage facility.
Our group pressed Ferenc on his cost of production, his fertility program and other issues, but he was reluctant to share details (as are most winners of national yield contests!) He believes that Hungarian farmers will become a force to reckon with—especially as non-GMO drought resistant hybrids and other management practices become available to him.
Ferenc and his wife were gracious hosts, providing us with a delicious lunch of pheasant soup and wild boar—made of game he hunted and shot himself. We left the farm scratching our heads a bit as to how the apparent achievements were possible—but also with the feeling that Ferenc was a smart operator and a bit of a visionary and "thought leader" in his part of the world.