Bulgarian delegation to observe agricultural work at Iowa State

Matt Kuhns

Iowa State will play host to 15 Bulgarian visitors today as part of a trip to study American agricultural practices.

The delegation will be visiting a variety of sites in Iowa and neighboring states during its time in the United States.

The trip was organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with the small central Iowa town of Dunlap hosting the group.

Dunlap Community Development Corporation Vice President Jay Randall said USDA inspector Ned Bergman proposed the idea of having Dunlap host the Bulgarians, in part because of his connection to DCDC manager Dana Sturgill.

Until the fall of communism in 1991, farming in Bulgaria was organized collectively.

Randall said because the country is still making the transition to a capitalist economy, the Bulgarians want to study American techniques for grain marketing and grain elevator operation.

Randall said he will be meeting with bankers in the Bulgarian delegation to discuss lending practices.

Sam Cogdill, DCDC president and coordinator of the event, said Bulgaria’s climate is similar to Iowa’s, although they have traditionally grown wheat instead of corn.

“They are here to learn about swine [and] corn production,” Cogdill said.

He said the Bulgarians’ visit to ISU will include meetings with the grain quality research group, tours of the meat lab and swine teaching farm and a presentation by economics professor Neil Harl.

As director of the Center for International Agricultural Finance, Harl is no stranger to working with people in transition economies.

Harl said most newly capitalist nations face the same main challenges: developing a modern finance system and building a legal system suited for a free-market economy.

The College of Agriculture asked Harl to prepare a presentation for the Bulgarians’ visit because of his experience in these areas.

Harl said adjusting for such a short presentation has been somewhat challenging.

“We’re accustomed to having at least two weeks of classroom time,” he said.

Nonetheless, he said he is looking forward to the chance to learn more about the specific challenges the Bulgarians are facing and how they perceive those challenges.

“You always gain something from the process,” he said.

Cogdill said he also anticipates learning more about Bulgaria’s culture, as well as the opportunity to promote the community of Dunlap internationally.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” Randall said. “It’s going to be an interesting time here in Dunlap.”