Argentine semen distributor sets record
By Heather Thorstensen
Date Modified: 04/05/2012 1:58 PM
BLOOMINGTON, Minn.— Juan Debernardi was honored at Cooperative Resources International's annual business meeting March 21 for excellent achievement in distributing cattle semen to Argentina.
Debernardi is CRI's first distributor worldwide to sell more than 1 million units in one year. He accomplished the high sales in 2011.
"Juan is our largest customer in the world. He has been for 15 to 20 years," said Michael Sleeper, vice president of international marketing for CRI.
According to Sleeper, 65 percent of all U.S. exports of beef cattle semen in 2011 came from CRI and went to Debernardi's company, Juan Debernardi, SRL, based in Buenos Aires. The market share of U.S. dairy semen exports was as high as 45 percent.
"One in three milk cows in Argentina are sired by CRI genetics," said Sleeper.
He estimates Debernardi has sold 12 million to 15 million units over his 30 year career.
Debernardi has stuck with CRI because he is happy with the genetics.
"The quality of the product of CRI is the highest in the industry, the fertility of the semen," said Debernardi, who is trained in veterinary medicine.
In 30 years, using CRI's genetics has helped to doubled milk production per cow on some Argentine farms, Debernardi said.
In recent years, he has also been importing semen from beef breeds.
He credits his success to his long-time relationship with Argentine farmers and his employees. His staff includes a sales team of 23 people who have learned from CRI.
CRI helps when Debernardi's team organizes events where specialists share information with Argentine farmers on topics such as reproduction and calf management.
"It's part of the service we provide to customers to help us have a big share of the market," Debernardi said.
He also brings dairy and beef producers from Argentina to visit American farms so they can see the management systems and facilities. This year, he will bring two beef groups and two dairy groups, including one that will visit World Dairy Expo.
CRI nominated Debernardi for World Dairy Expo's distinction of International Person of the Year. Debernardi received the title in 2007.
Sleeper and Debernardi's work relationship goes back to 1982, when Sleeper worked for Pennsylvania-based Atlantic Breeders Co-op, which later merged with other companies into what is CRI today.
Based in Shawano, Wis., CRI is the umbrella organization of two subsidiaries: AgSource Cooperative Services, which provides agricultural testing and informational services, and Genex Cooperative, Inc., which provides dairy and beef sires and service in the U.S. and Canada. CRI's International Division provides sires and service around the world.
Approximately 350 people attended the organization's annual meetings.