Study tours play an important part of the education program at Marcus Oldham with students seeing theory put into practice and giving them the chance to learn from experienced managers and industry leaders. As part of this, we take all Agribusiness, Agriculture and Equine students on domestic and international tours each year to expose them to multiple industries and business environments.
Over two weeks in August, Lecturers David Cornish and Kate Gorman travelled with our final year Bachelor of Business (Agribusiness) students for a California study tour. Kate Gorman was gracious enough to pen this short tour summary
Final year Marcus Oldham Agribusiness students were fortunate to be welcomed by many Californian food production operations during our time in the United States.
Landing in San Francisco, we travelled to the University of California in Davis, where we spent 4 days living on campus and enjoying the experience of being immersed in a University town. We had the privilege to spend the day with the Animal Science Research Program, gaining insight into animal genomics (including the poll and slick gene research), plus hearing from world renowned academics such as Alison Van Eenennaam and Frank Mitloehner (Greenhouse Gas – CLEAR Centre).
This week, we were also provided access to: one of the largest tomato processing plants in the USA at PCP Pacific Coast Producers; Blue Diamond Almonds in Sacramento, hearing how much this industry is growing and the market for huge array of almond products; observed sturgeon farming practices which produce the recently voted world’s best caviar at Sterling Caviar; and spent some time with Marcus Oldham alumni Paul Riordan, at Cobram Estate Olive Oil’s US operation.
To round out the first week, we had a very pleasant day spent in the Napa Valley, where grape, sparkling (Mumm Napa) and wine production (Berringer Wines) and of course tasting, was a particular focus.
After a weekend in San Francisco, we spent the second half of our tour south of the City, in and around the Central Valley. The focus here was on ag technology, including AI, Lidar and automation. We were given an insight into how data and tech are set to change the face of ag production sooner than we think (our thanks to Western Growers Innovation Centre, Carbon Robotics and Bear Flag Robotics).
A true highlight was visiting the Harris Ranch Feedlot, where well over 110,000 cattle from across the Country are finished. The size of this operation was incredible. We obviously couldn’t leave this area, without sampling a steak at the famous Harris Ranch Inn. Paicines Ranch provided some insight into their experimentation with sustainable/regenerative farming practices, plus we were also rewarded with a cheese tasting at Fiscalini’s Dairy and Cheese production enterprise in Modesto.
The tour was a fantastic experience for students and staff alike, the size of the Californian and US market and the many similarities with Australia in relation to natural resource usage were our key takeaways.
If you would like to learn more about the Bachelor of Business (Agribusiness) course, please click here.