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May 30, 2003:

UW-River Falls Professors Receive Grant for Project in Serbia

Two UW-River Falls professors from the animal and food science department of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences have received a $78,000 grant from the foreign agricultural services of the USDA for a three-part technical assistance project on forages and dairy feeding in Serbia.

Dennis Cooper, professor of agronomy, and Dennis Cosgrove, professor of dairy science, conducted similar agricultural development projects in the past, in the countries of Romania and Ukraine. The three-part project they have undertaken in Serbia is similar, though more extensive.

They began with an eight-day trip to Serbia in March to do an assessment of the agriculture and the country's needs in the areas of forage production and dairy nutrition.

"This was three days after Prime Minister of Serbia Zoran Djindjic was assassinated, and the country was in a state of emergency," said Cooper. "Our plan was to be based in Belgrade, and take day trips from there. We were able to do this for the first few days, then the war in Iraq began.

"There were no protests in front of the U.S. Embassy, but for security reasons we were not allowed to go on any more day trips. The last two days of our trip we had to stay in Belgrade, and the people we were planning to see came to us.

"We wanted to determine what the needs were for an educational seminar. On the days before our travel was restricted, we went to several research and educational institutes, as well as farms and a cheese plant.

"We determined that there was a need for educational workshops on forage production and dairy feeding. The workshops, which will compose the second part of the project, will probably be scheduled for October. We will probably take along one or two farmers as well as one or two representatives from the USDA in Washington."

Cooper said the third component of the technical assistance project will be a study tour in Wisconsin for visiting Serbian agriculturalists. He and Cosgrove will invite about eight Serbians to come to the United States for two weeks to attend seminars on campus, building on what they did when they were in Serbia.

"Our goal is to get them developing their own dairy and forage production in Serbia, using us as a resource when they need help," he said.

A "Young Scientist" program has resulted from the project conducted in Romania last year. Three Romanian scientists will come to UW-RF in the fall for an intensive, one-month educational program that Cooper hopes will include a visit to the World Dairy Expo.


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