Oct. 30, 2003
UW-River Falls Hosts International Dairy Scientists
By Sarah Matara
UW-RF News Bureau
Four Romanian dairy scientists completed a month-long visit to UW-River Falls as part of an international program to foster academic ties between the United States and foreign countries.
Three of the scientists, Iudith Ipate, Mihail Gras and Calin Ciprian, come from the Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences Research Institute in Balotesti. Teofil Trensan comes from the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in Cluj-Napoca.
UW-RF dairy science professor and extension dairy specialist Dennis Cooper, along with agronomy professor and extension forage specialist Dennis Cosgrove, conducted educational dairy seminars in Romania last year.
They addressed the topics of forage production for dairy cattle and the feeding of dairy cattle at the seminar. They also discussed methods to improve productivity, including management-intensive rotational grazing and dairy genetics.
The Romanians' visit was reciprocal to the trip by Cooper and Cosgrove. It is a part of the Young Scientist to Scientist program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service.
"You wonder how much impact you have. Presenting information one time doesn't necessarily change anything. You plant a seed and hope it grows. This visit is a chance for us to continue to plant that seed," Cooper said.
The program is designed for European scientists to spend time with American mentors, learning how to improve conditions in their country and research their interests.
Cooper, Cosgrove, animal science Professor Tom Goerke and dairy science Professor Steve Kelm are serving as mentors.
While here, the scientists took part in seminars and tours. They visited the World Dairy Expo in Madison, where they talked to representatives of different companies, hoping to garner business opportunities in Romania.
They also visited dairy farms throughout Wisconsin and attended seminars presented by UW-RF professors on such topics as artificial insemination, breeding, forage quality and production, cooperatives and distance education.
"Providing them with these opportunities gives them a chance to see for themselves, pick up and evaluate ideas to see if they are suitable for their situation in Romania," Cooper said.
Milk production levels in Romania are low, but have the potential to be better, Cooper said. They are trying to teach farmers about better care and feed, or "cow comfort."
"We recognize that this needs to be done in a low economy," Cooper said. "We want to show them how to improve with a low investment method."
He and his colleagues emphasize improving forage quality, since Romanians have good pastureland. One example of maximizing the use of existing resources are teaching the scientists how to renovate old barns to make the stalls bigger and the ventilation systems more efficient.
The University received a $20,000 grant from the USDA to fund the visit to UW-RF.
Cooper says their visit also benefits UW-RF students.
"It's helping to internationalize the University and bring opportunities for students to maybe someday work overseas. It's giving the faculty and staff a chance to bring the world into their classrooms. They can see how concepts that they might not think about here are relevant somewhere else."
Cooper said the program benefits the USDA in various ways also. Improving the economy of eastern European nations helps stabilize their governments, allowing the United States to form alliances. It also allows the United States to develop trading partners and markets for American agricultural products and services.
Cooper and his colleagues will recommend to the USDA that UW-RF continues its involvement with the Young Scientist to Scientist program.
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