A Beef Study Tour is to set off to South Americain February next year to learn about beef cattle production systems in Argentina and Brazil.

The tour, sponsored by the Montana Beef Quality Assurance program and BEEF magazine, will visit a variety of cattle ranching and feeding operations in Brazil's west-central subtropical cattle farming regions and in Argentina's temperate climate.

Highlights will include an Argentine cattle feeding operation and a Brazilian meat packing plant. Among the other stops will be a federal beef cattle research center and a high-tech cattle seedstock operation.

"In today's global marketplace, cattlemen need to know what the competition is up to and how they're doing it," said Clint Peck of Billings, BQA director.

"We've developed an itinerary that'll give beef producers around the U.S. the best possible look at beef systems in these two agricultural powerhouses."

Mr Peck and Joe Roybal of Minneapolis, editor of BEEF, will lead the tour along with travel coordinator Renata Stephens of Brazilian Liaison in Long Lake, Minn. Stephens is a Brazilian native who has extensive experience in South American agricultural excursions.

"The purpose is to learn about the challenges and opportunities facing South American ranchers as competitors in international markets," Mr Peck said.

"Participants will have a first-hand look at their strengths and weaknesses - as well as their lives and lifestyles."

Besides the agricultural settings, tour participants will visit world-class sites in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.