An international delegation of ten farmers and ag industry leaders from as far away as Australia and New Zealand is arriving in Iowa today to spend a week studying the Iowa way of life.

Ed Kee, Delaware’s former Secretary of Agriculture, is now president of Nuffield American. “Nuffield International is a group that sponsors significant travel for young farmers from different countries to go around the world and learn about agriculture in those countries,” Kee says. “They travel 16 weeks divided over a year’s time to do that work.” That work includes compiling an in-depth report on their experiences.

Kee is no stranger to Iowa as he’s had a long working relationship with Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey. “It’s a real treat for me to help these people from these different countries to visit Iowa,” Kee says. “Secretary Northey and his department have been a big help in arranging it but as we did that, the Iowa farmers, the Iowa agribusiness people are so welcoming and encouraging.”

Members of the delegation will begin their tour with a meeting with Secretary Northey today. “The group is interacting with the different farm organizations and commodity leaders to really start off trying to understand Iowa agriculture,” Kee says. “The most exciting thing is just getting out on the farms, interacting with different agribusinesses, different farmers.”

The tour will include stops on farms and tours of agricultural industries in the Des Moines area as well as Ames, Anita, Bridgewater, Sigourney, Nevada and Ellsworth.

They’ll also take in an Iowa Cubs game in Des Moines, the first baseball game for many of them. Ag officials participating in the tour are from Australia, Brazil, England, Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)