Australian tour group visits farm

BREMEN — Although the Houin family has hosted tours before at their farm on Plymouth-Goshen Trail near Bremen — most recently the Indiana Farm Management Tour in June — the group of about 50 Australians who visited Monday was something new. Marvin and Diane Houin were contacted by Indiana Farm Bureau to be a stop on the Australian’s month-long tour of farms in the United States.
“We are presenting basically what an Indiana farm looks like,” said Charlie Houin, Marvin and Diane’s son. “(We will talk about) how to market corn in the U.S., and what kind of issues come up.”
Most of the Australian visitors were also farmers, primarily producers of wheat and livestock. Charlie said he appreciated the cultural experience of learning about the Australians’ livelihood and different methods of farming that they use.
“This is the biggest farm we’ve been to,” commented one visitor, Moya Carne, adding that she is interested in learning about production specifically in the Midwest.
Jill Meathel and Peter Coy, two other members of the tour, raise sheep at their home in Australia. However, they said that learning about corn and soybeans is of interest to them.
“(The tour) is a learning experience, although most of us are fairly mature farmers,” said Coy.
The couple said that they have been on the tour for about 10 days, and have visited farms in New York, Canada, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The group was set to travel to the Chicago area Monday evening, and the tour ends in California August 12.
“It’s a business holiday — we consider it business,” said Meathel, smiling. She said that she and Coy had also been on a tour of farms in China and Tibet.
Marvin and Charlie explained the history of the farm, from its beginning in 1978. They also talked about making it through a major fire in the 1980s and how they rebuilt their livelihood following the disaster. Now, they use modern GPS technology in their farm equipment in order to plant, fertilize, and harvest precisely.
“We have a good business structure, and are using sophisticated computer technology to vary what we do according to soil types,” explained Charlie.
Visitors were shown irrigation in cornfields, and also received an overview of different equipment and a tour of the Houin farm facilities.