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Iowa State University Extension

International program promotes ag understanding — with Iowa style

USDA Cochran program participants

They come to Iowa from throughout the world to learn about agriculture, build networks and gain skills they can take back home. These participants in the USDA Cochran Program for International Agricultural Understanding experience U.S. food production from the field to the processor to the consumer — with Iowa style. According to Madeline Schultz, who coordinates the program for ISU Extension Value Added Agriculture, “USDA tells me what they’re looking for and then I develop a training program to meet their needs.”

Two teams of Chinese journalists learned about human nutritional needs, the U.S. agricultural systems that produce the food to meet those needs and the media’s role in informing the public on food issues, she said.

A Philippine study team then requested a similar program to better understand the challenges in food production and learn new ways to help people get the nutrition they need, Schultz said. “The team was intrigued with the system of Extension here in Iowa, especially in regard to family health and nutrition.”

The programs have a mix of Iowa culture and history, farm and agribusiness visits, and food and nutrition training. Schultz also introduces visitors to farmer cooperation, state government and commodity and niche marketing methods.

“One of our most important goals is to showcase ISU Extension and demonstrate how knowledge is transferred from the university to citizens,” Schultz said. Extension professionals as well as Iowa State professors and students are involved. For more information, contact Schultz at

This article appeared in December 2007 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter