Farmfair sees spike in international buyers

The number of international buyers were up this year at Farmfair, and the organization hopes to keep that momentum going so Canadian breeders can expand their markets.

Stacy Felkar, international marketing manager with Farmfair, said the number of international buyers grew by 37 percent this year.

She attributed that increase to Canada’s great genetics, as well as the fact that last year’s buyers decided to bring others with them this year.

“Every time an international buyer comes and goes home, they tell the story of their wonderful experience here,” she said.

“Plus, they have their amazing Canadian cattle and genetics to showcase in their country, and that makes more people interested in coming here.”

International buyers spend an average of $10,000 to $15,000 on embryos, semen or cattle, Felkar said. There were slightly more than 100 buyers this year.

“It’s usually fairly significant numbers,” she said.

New additions this year include buyers from South Africa and Namibia.

Jaco Smit, general manager of South African-based genetics company Taurus Evolution, said he was invited to come to the event this year and has been amazed by the genetics.

“The people are very friendly that it makes you want to come again,” he said. “It makes you feel guilty if you don’t do business here.”

Smit said he’s partnered with Blairs.Ag Cattle Company and Miller Wilson Angus, which both showed at Farmfair this year.

He plans to import their embryos and semen to South Africa and then sell them to ranchers there.

Dawn Wilson of Miller Wilson Angus said it’s been great to strike a deal with Smit because most of the company’s business comes from international buyers.

“When we can get our genetics in another country, and they do well, that does well for everybody,” Wilson said.

“It does well for us and that does well for (Smit), so hopefully it does well for the breeders because it’s an important part of our business.”

However, business transactions are more than just about money, Smit added.

He said coming to Farmfair is about making personal relationships so both parties can be more flexible in terms of pricing.

In his case, the Canadian dollar is stronger than the South African rand.

“There’s a bit of compromise, and I need someone to understand the vision we have,” he said.

“In my opinion, business is business but, for me, it’s important to have humanity in it and understanding the industry.”

He said he plans to bring more South African buyers with him next year.

“This trip has paid for itself over and over again just by the experience,” he said.

“I might bring five or 10 farmers with me next year because there is so much we can take from Canada that will make us a bit more successful.”

Felkar said she hopes to attract more buyers next year.

“I think the whole reason we do the international program is for our Canadian producers,” she said.

“It gives them one more avenue to market cattle and genetics.”

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