International Outreach in Value Added Agriculture

Patty Gibler and Madeline Schultz, Program Specialists, Value Added Ag Program


Value Added Ag Program, funded by USAID and IFHOPE, hosted two international groups:

        Feb 21-March 8, 2006 Organic Farming Program for Romania and Bulgaria Participants

        May 30-June 1, 2006 -- Swine Production Program for Latin Producers and Service Providers


Iowa State University Extension International Outreach in Value Added Agriculture. 

Organic Farming Program Romania and Bulgaria


The Value Added Agriculture Program at Iowa State University hosted groups from Romania and Bulgaria interested in the organic industry on a two week study tour of organic agriculture and farmer organizations in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The group visited several cooperatives including Organic Valley Family of Farms, West Central Cooperative, Mississippi Market Food Co-op and Pastureland Dairy. The international guests learned about other ways that farmers organize themselves and help each other through visits with the National Farmers Organization and O-Farm.

VAAP staff members traveled with the international guests to the Upper Midwest Organic Conference where they learned about many farmer organizations, consumer trends, and organic production methods.  The visitors enjoyed exploring several farms and learning about value-added enterprises such as on-farm grain milling, milk processing, niche pork marketing, greenhouse vegetables, and Community Supported Agriculture. 

The tour included discussions with buyers of organic products; Whole Foods and Grain Millers and a distributor of food products; Perishable Distributors of Iowa. The International guests appreciated the opportunity to meet with professors and Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture staff members on the ISU campus as well as with officials at the Iowa Dept. of Ag and Land Stewardship.

The travelers attended a VAAP workshop called Bridging the Gap, which provided insights into the process of farmers selling food to distributors. 

The young professionals from Bulgaria and Romania commented many times on how extremely nice all of the Americans were that they met and this made the VAAP staff feel very privileged to work within the cooperative and agriculture industries in the United States. The group of Bulgarian and Romanian visitors took home many good ideas that will help them and their countries improve their food security and quality of life. When asked to write about the most important topic learned that could contribute to agricultural development in their countries, one Romanian farmer summed up the group's comments quite well when he wrote, Follow examples from the U.S. (where) individual farmers working together in different ways add value to their products. 

Swine Production Latin Producers and Service Providers


Eleven participants from the Latin American countries of Peru, Panama, Nicaragua, Chile, Costa Rica and Guatemala visited Iowa to learn about the pork industry, production methods and the organizations assisting the industry. The Value Added Agriculture Program (VAAP) staff put together the program itinerary and secured translation services from ISU ag students who are native Spanish speakers.  Ray Hansen and Madeline Schultz led the project and hosted the group during their two week stay in Iowa. Sherry Hoyer from the Iowa Pork Industry Center, helped arrange several of the speakers and many campus units provided important training for the Cochran Fellows. The Fellows also had the opportunity to visit swine farms, experience rural Iowa, learn about cooperatives and biodiesel, and attend the World Pork Expo.

The swine training program began with an overview of Iowa agriculture, and the swine industry in particular, as well as an overview of the university. On campus, the Cochran Fellows visited with the Iowa Pork Industry Center, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Meat Labs, College of Veterinary Medicine and Diagnostic Lab, Swine Teaching and Research Farms, and the USDA ARS swine manure management/air quality laboratories, in addition to VAAP and AgMRC.

Several ISU professors and others provided training on specific topics including Ken Stalder sow management, Palmer Holden swine nutrition and tour of research farms, Colin Johnson  - outreach programs and financial management, Max Rothschild genetics, Mark Honeyman research and Extension, Brian Kerr USDA-ARS research updates and lab tour,  James Lummus National Pork Board producer education materials and goals, Mike Meetz- tour of diagnostic vet labs, and James McKean and Alex Ramirez topics in swine health.

In addition to tours of the ISU swine farms, the Cochran Fellows toured two other Iowa Swine farms. They visited with Herman Tripp in Greene County to see his new construction, innovative waste handling systems and functioning sow unit. They also drove to Palo Alto County to meet Extension Swine Specialist, Jerry Weiss, to learn more about Extension and view concentrated swine production areas. Mac Luna, and his wife Pam Smith, both veterinarians, gave presentations to the group at the Extension office and then guided a tour of Kolasch Sow Farm. 

Of particular interest to the group, was how producers work together within the swine industry. They had the opportunity to visit with Gary Huber - Practical Farmers of Iowa, Kelly Biensen and Leah Siebrecht Eden Natural, Rich Degner Iowa Pork Producers Association, Dallas Hockman - National Pork Board, and Joel Severinghaus Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.


Participants left Iowa State University with new knowledge and skills gained during their visit.  The two international programs helped build relationships with the individuals that participated and created bonds with the eight countries these participants came from. The positive feed back received from participants helps Value Added Ag Programs opportunities for future sponsored international programs with USAID and IFHOPE.

August 2006

121 - Adding Value and Enhancing Agricultural Products


Page last updated: September 5, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,