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Local Dairy Leaders Heading to Kosovo to Aid Dairies
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 03/16/2011

A delegation of dairy leaders from Wisconsin and Minnesota are partnering with government and industry leaders in Kosovo for a two-year collaborative project to assess food safety risks and improve milk quality.

The dairy experts traveled to the war-torn county in January to begin work on a milk quality project. The initiative is led by Dr. Pamela Ruegg, professor of Dairy Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Karen Nielsen, director of the Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development. Accompanying Ruegg and Nielsen to Kosovo in January were Dr. Scott Wells, director of education for the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota; Trisha Wagner, Jackson County UW Extension agent; and John Kappelman, a consultant for Cereal Byproducts Company who has worked on many USAID Farmer to Farmer projects in Eurasia.

While in Kosovo, the team of U.S. agricultural experts traveled throughout the country, visiting small dairy farms, milk collection centers, dairy processing plants, national testing laboratories, and the University of Prishtina.

The trip culminated in a presentation of the proposed program by Dr. Ruegg, who spoke to a room of government officials, university staff, embassy personnel and representatives of private organizations. The proposal received enthusiastic endorsement by the Ministry of Agriculture in Kosovo, the University of Prishtina and the Kosovar Food and Veterinary Agency, who will be key partners.

Kosovo, a former territory of Yugoslavia, is a small country with a tumultuous history. As a result of conflict and war in the 1990s, many farmers lost their lives. Livestock was destroyed and the nation's dairy industry was left devastated. The country gained independence in 2008 and is still working to rebuild its agricultural industry to meet the nutritional and economic needs of the population.

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