Farmers on the Iowa Farm Bureau Black Sea study tour found themselves in a severe state of envy recently as they toured thriving corn fields in Ukraine. Who could blame them?

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation tour to the Black Sea region is designed to help Iowans learn about this part of the world, which is expected to be a big competitor for Iowa crop exports in the coming years. But even half-way around the world it’s hard to not think about home.

When the participants talked with people back in Iowa, or checked the radar on their smartphones, they heard about more heavy rains in parts of Iowa and another round of flooding. That was not going to help the corn in the Hawkeye State, the U.S. leader in corn production. Bur this year much of the state’s corn is short, stunted and badly in need of a good dose of heat and sunshine.

That’s what made it so hard to visit a farm in Krasopilka, Ukraine. It took only a glimpse to see that the corn there was 8-foot tall, green and ready to start the all-important pollination process. In short, it looked perfect, just like Iowa corn is supposed to look this time of year.

“It makes me sick to look at,” joked Brad Moeckly, a farmer from Elkhart. The perfect-looking corn fields were a long, long stretch ahead of the ones in Iowa, he said.

Blake Anderson, a Nodaway farmer and soon to be ag teacher, noted how the fertile landscape at the Ukraine farm looked a lot like parts of Iowa. But, he added, “The corn does look a lot better here.”

Erwin Johnson of Charles City said he would gladly trade a field of his struggling corn for one of those in Ukraine. He doubted that he’d get any takers.

After last year’s drought and a little too much rain this year, you couldn’t blame the Iowa farmers for being just a touch envious when they looked at the nearly-perfect corn fields in this part of Ukraine. But then, as several said, that’s the way agriculture is. You just never know what the weather will bring. Who knows, maybe next year it will be Ukraine’s turn to fight difficult growing conditions. That’s just part of farming and of putting in the hard work and taking the risks to feed people around the world.

It’s just what farmers do.

Written by Dirck Steimel. Dirck is the editor of the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman.