WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded Land O'Lakes International Development  funds to support new agricultural capacity building and food safety programs in Georgia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Rwanda and Malawi.

“Land O'Lakes International Development welcomes the ongoing partnership of USAID and USDA as we continue leveraging the expertise of a nearly century-old, farmer-owned cooperative to improve livelihoods and enhance agriculture worldwide,” said John Ellenberger, executive director of Land O’Lakes International Development. “We’re excited to build collaborative efforts for international economic development that unite host country agricultural stakeholders, Land O’Lakes, Inc. farmers and technical staff, government leaders and academic experts to maximize results.”

The five new programs focus on agricultural capacity building, food safety and cooperative development. The projects include:

·       The Lebanon Investment in Quality (LINQ) Program, funded by USAID, is a three-year project focused on enhancing food safety and quality expertise in the agribusiness and fresh products sectors. The project will leverage technical support from Land O’Lakes, Inc. quality assurance experts, including both in-country volunteers and distance mentoring assignments.

·       Land O’Lakes International Development’s business relationships and cooperative management expertise works to provide assistance to Rwandan and Malawian agricultural cooperatives through USAID. In addition to technical advice from the Land O’Lakes, Inc. member relations team, Land O'Lakes, Inc. member cooperatives will provide technical assistance for the project.

·       Working alongside experts at Michigan State University and the Georgian Farmers Association, Land O’Lakes International Development will work with Georgian dairy and livestock agribusinesses to improve food safety and quality protocols. It will build up food safety best practices through a private sector-led effort, supported by the project partners and incorporating food safety expertise from Land O’Lakes, Inc. Funding for this five-year program is provided by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service via the Food for Progress Program.

·       A five-year project in Egypt will focus on work alongside the government of Egypt and Egypt’s National Food Safety Authority to inspect and coach food businesses in new food safety standards. The program will leverage the expertise of the International Food Protection Training Institute, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The program has been awarded funding from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service via the Food for Progress Program.

·       Farmer-to-Farmer Food Safety and Quality (F2F FSQ) is a five-year USAID-funded program that will provide technical assistance to host organizations by utilizing volunteer expertise in Egypt, Lebanon and Bangladesh.

Land O'Lakes International Development began implementing farmer-to-farmer programs in 1987 and has sent more than 1,400 volunteers — including over 160 Land O'Lakes, Inc. staff and cooperative members — on F2F assignments in 27 countries.

The nonprofit organization is working to help communities around the world build economies by strengthening local agriculture, helping businesses create jobs and linking farmers to markets. Since 1981, Land O’Lakes International Development has implemented over 300 dairy, livestock and crops development programs in nearly 80 countries — growing farmer, cooperative and commercial businesses along the way.