Friday, March 28, 2014

Great Story About Trying To Farm In The Ukraine

I ran across this on Crop Talk this week.  It's about an Iowa farm boy who took the challenge to manage a farm in the Ukraine for Morgan Stanley.  What he went through is something few of us can handle.  I am glad I never had to.

"Enselco Ltd., the company Morgan Stanley funded that owned the Ukrainian farms, bought satellite-guided John Deere tractors to plow its weed-strewn Ukrainian acres and imported mold- preventing grain bags as long as football fields. Bruch picked up enough Russian to joke with his tractor drivers and order a meal in his adopted home.
Things began to fall apart within months. The locals stole fertilizer and insecticide, Bruch says, and he suspected that harvested wheat was disappearing too. He wound up fighting with tax, immigration, fire and police inspectors and trying to satisfy officials who wanted him to build roads, not just till fields. He left the farm, called Golden Fields, in June 2009 to manage a Ukrainian farm owned by another foreign investor.

‘Worked My Tail Off’

“I worked my tail off for a year on that, trying to do a good job, produce a good crop,” Bruch says in a Lviv beer garden over a meal of spit-roasted pig. “It was pretty stressful and pretty much a headache, so I’m really happy not ever to deal with any of it again.”Morgan Stanley gave up on farming in Ukraine in July 2009, abandoning the initiative in the middle of a harvest. It bought out its local partner, Aleksandr Mamontenko, then sold Enselco to an investment firm based in Jersey in the Channel Islands, at what people familiar with the situation say was a loss. All told, Morgan Stanley put about $30 million into Enselco through loans. 
This kind of goes with my blog about Sustainability in Agriculture and even the discussion of kangaroo's in the beans.  I would love to see farming the Ukraine but my chance of seeing that in my lifetime may be ruined, too, with the unrest in that region and around the world today.  I am not even sure we will get to see farming in South America in our lifetime, though we would really like to.
Shoot, I would be happy to travel Canada again and maybe find some of my good readers up there.

Ed Winkle


  1. It is not really that difficult. It is human nature. No one cares about your money like you do. So... You run a huge farm for a huge company and you hire workers. The workers don't give a rip because they have nothing invested in the success of the farm. The most likely hate you for having all that money and opportunities that they do not have.
    Plus, you are "not from around here" and they want to see you fail. You and your snooty rich foreign owners. Not as much a commentary on farming as on corporate agriculture.

  2. Fortunately, I knew most of the neighbors when we bought this farm. The good people knew were not snooty neighbors. We are hard working people that came from nowhere and never over stepped our bounds as far as I know.

    I know what you are talking about though and I've seen it happen many times.

    The people that do not know us probably are well described by your post.

    Ed Winkle