England, Ireland and Scotland 2018
In June 2018, 69 MAB students, alumni, friends, and members of Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) participated in an international farm and agribusiness tour of England, Ireland and Scotland.
"We really enjoyed the MAB/KFB trip. The farm visits put a face on agriculture in the United Kingdom. Producers shared how they work under European Union (EU) regulations and use programs that enable them to produce food for their markets, as well as preserve the land and farmsteads for agritourism and future generations," said Dave Rock, MAB alum, Olathe, KS.
Due to the large number of travelers, participants were split into two groups for the tour, but visited many of the same operations including a stop at Causey Farm outside of Dublin, Ireland. Causey Farm breeds limousine-cross cattle and has a flock of Belclair ewes, an Irish breed famous for their high numbers of lambs. In addition, they grow winter wheat and spring barley, as well as curly kale, beets and turnips. As an added treat during the visit, travelers learned how to make Irish soda bread that was baked for them while they toured the farm.
"The Causey Farm was a real hoot to see all of the activities of the farming operation. It was also awesome to make our own souvenir loaf of bread!" said Earl Biggers, MAB Alum, Lake Norden, SD.
The two groups did spend a couple of days together in Edinburgh, Scotland, for some sightseeing and to visit the Royal Highland Show, a large farm and livestock show. The 4-day event has more than 6,500 animals and 2,150 livestock competitors.
"The Royal Highland Show showcases some of the best livestock in the UK. It was a real highlight of the trip!" Deborah Kohl, MAB Program Coordinator said. "We saw different types of meat and dairy cattle, miniature ponies, all kinds of horses, and several breeds of sheep."
One of the main topics the groups heard about during visits was how Brexit may affect agriculture. Brexit is the shorthand way of saying that the UK is leaving the EU. While there are many questions about the upcoming UK exit, it may provide opportunities for U.S. trade.
"Brexit will alter the UK’s trade relationship with the European Union. Many of the farmers we talked to think it may be a positive change for the UK," Dr. Allen Featherstone, Ag Econ Department Head and Director of the MAB program, said. "There is also potential for the U.S. to build closer trade relationships with both the UK and EU in the process. These new relationships could be beneficial to U.S. producers."
The trip was not all business, as sightseeing was also worked into the schedule. The group toured many of the region’s famous locations including: the Guinness Storehouse and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, Powerscourt Gardens (near Dublin), Edinburgh Castle and St. Andrew’s Golf Course in Scotland, and Westminster Abbey in London, England.
"For Dawn and me, one of the best aspects of the trip was being able to travel with such a great bunch of K-Staters and other Kansas folks. We enjoyed every stop and being able to share the experience with such a great group of people. I definitely liked the agricultural focus, especially the dairy related stops!" Biggers said.