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Ag spoken here

The Farm Progress Show attracts people in agriculture from near and far. It’s a place to meet and talk about common interests — even for two farmers who don’t speak the same language. Mauro Cravero farms in Argentina and speaks Spanish, but no English. Tom Bindner farms in northwest Iowa and speaks English, but no Spanish. But they were able to talk to each other in person through an interpreter at the 2010 Farm Progress Show at Boone.

That wasn’t the first time they talked. They first met via the Internet in 2004 and have kept in touch with email ever since. How did they first connect on the Internet? Bindner responded to a post Cravero wrote on a farm magazine website. Cravero was commenting on an American farmer’s complaint about Argentine farmers not having to pay a tech fee when buying Roundup Ready soybean seed. There was no tech fee in Argentina at the time.

“That’s how I got Mauro’s email address,” says Bindner. “I wanted to know what our competition was doing, how crops were progressing in South America.”

Bindner’s recollection of their initial emails brought a chuckle from Cravero when the two were standing next to each other at the 2010 show. “Our interest was shared, and it still is. It is mutual,” said Cravero at the time.

Beginning with that initial contact in 2004, they’ve used a free Google software program to translate their email messages. The two farmers keep in touch, exchanging thoughts about weather, prices, crops and other ag-related topics. Drought in South America was a key item of discussion in 2011; now it’s drought in the U.S. Corn Belt. Cravero never had a chance to learn English and had never been to the United States before his 2003 visit to the Farm Progress Show in Illinois. He came with a group from Argentina, and after that visit, he was eager to learn more about American farmers.

A common connection

“For Mauro and myself to be able to talk to each other via the Web, with our words translated by the software program, is a great opportunity,” says Bindner. “You can learn from each other despite the huge distance.” As Internet pen pals, they also exchange photos of their farming operations and what’s going on in the fields.

In 2007 Cravero came to the United States on a 10-day ag tour, his second visit to the Farm Progress Show, again in Illinois that year. The Argentine farm group also visited farms and agribusinesses in Iowa, Nebraska and the Kansas City area. Their Iowa visit included a tour of the REG biodiesel plant at Ralston and Pioneer’s headquarters at Johnston. They spent a day at Iowa State University.

Cravero’s third visit to the Farm Progress Show was in 2010 in Iowa. That trip was sponsored by John Deere of Argentina, and Cravero and several relatives (his dad, brother and son) were part of a large group of Argentine farmers who flew to the United States. The group had a special tent next to the Deere exhibit.

Cravero says he learns as much as he can by attending the show. He talks to people about the U.S. economy, especially the farm economy.

“We are particularly interested in agriculture in the United States because it is such a big influence on the world,” he says. “That’s why we come here every few years on these tours, to take in the Farm Progress Show. Not only do we want to see what’s new in machinery, seed, chemicals and fertilizers, we want to see how U.S. agriculture is evolving in the economy. And we enjoy meeting and exchanging ideas with U.S. farmers.”

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FRIENDS MEET: Internet pen pals Mauro Cravero and Tom Bindner talked to each other in person at the 2010 Farm Progress Show in Iowa. A group of Argentine visitors to the show included members of the Cravero family (from left): Mauro’s brother Gabriel, father Roberto, son Pascual and Mauro. Tom Bindner (right) and son Dean (second from right) farm at Marcus in northwest Iowa.

This article published in the August, 2012 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.