Since 1984, the Cochran Fellowship Program at ISU has brought foreign agricultural professionals to the U.S. for technical training, networking and a greater understanding of the U.S. agricultural sector in general. The program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), is geared toward agricultural professionals from middle income countries, emerging markets and emerging democracies. The goal is to increase the food security of these countries, while also encouraging trade linkages with agricultural interests in the U.S.
The director of the training program, Dirk Maier, is a professor and post-harvest engineer in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at ISU. Maier, who is also associate director of the Global Food Security Consortium at ISU, wrote the proposal that brought the fellows to the U.S.
“While Ukraine is a major grain production and exporting country, they are also an important customer of U.S. technology including equipment and machinery,” said Maier.
They were given an overview of U.S. grain handling, transportation and marketing, discussed mycotoxins and phytosanitary issues with grain as well as the tools and techniques available to quantify mycotoxins and discussed genetically modified organisms which were brought up by the fellows in terms of comparing the U.S. versus European perspective. They visited the Iowa Grain Quality Lab and received an overview and hands-on training on NIR grain analysis equipment.
The fellows traveled to Clayton, Iowa, U.S., to visit a CGB river terminal where grain is transferred from trucks to barges for transport down the Mississippi River.
They also traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., to see the destination of the river transported grain, and observed Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill’s export facilities where U.S. grains, oilseeds and processed products are shipped to major importers like Japan and Mexico.
In Kansas City, Missouri, U.S., the fellows spent time at the USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s Federal Grain Inspection Service National Grain Center, learning about U.S. grain standards and the equipment used to quantify grain traits consistently throughout the U.S.
After returning to Iowa, they continued classroom training with sessions on traceability and food safety of grains and improved grain facility receiving design. On the last day, the fellows visited LongView Farm in Nevada, Iowa, U.S., to learn about the business of grain and seed farming. They further explored the grain logistics chain by visiting Landus (formerly West Central) Cooperative in Boone, Iowa, U.S., where they observed farmers delivering some of their corn from the 2015 harvest after they had finished planting their 2016 crop.
They discussed the challenge of storing and maintaining the quality of grain and oilseeds, and the logistics of eventually transporting these products thousands of miles across the U.S. by rail.