Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wednesday, February 17th

Today we visited the US embassy in Lisbon.  Ambassador Robert Sherman was not there because he was traveling, however we were able to visit with five members of the US Foreign Service.  They gave an overview of what their day-to-day duties were at the embassy, and were very transparent about discussing international trade specifically between the US and the European Union.

Our second stop was to a dairy farm.  The farm has 300 Holstein cows and 2,500 Alpine and Saanen goats.  All of the feed required for animal consumption is produced on the farm (growing conditions and irrigation allow for corn to be double cropped after rye grass).  We learned about how the European Union recently removed quotas for milk production resulting in a decline in prices.  This farm is currently operating at a loss on each liter of milk produced by the cows.  Goat milk was still profitable.  It was interesting to see how similar the operation was to dairy farms in the United States (free stall barn, corn silage, sand bedding, milking parlor, etc.)

Next we visited the Companhia das Lezirias where we ate lunch.  Afterwards, we began a tour of the farm which is 18,000 (about 45,000 acres) hectares and owned by the Portuguese government.  The farm has cork productions, rice, wine, cattle, eucalyptus, horses, and hunting.  Our tour concluded with a visit to their vineyard and winery.  Companhia das Leziras focuses heavily on being environmentally friendly by minimizing inputs spread on their crops, and their cattle operation is primarily organic.