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WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2009 – Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), along with faculty from Colorado State University, recently welcomed six Afghan veterinarians to the United States to help Afghanistan improve the health of their livestock herds. The Afghans, all of whom hold Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from Afghanistan’s Kabul University, are participants in USDA’s Cochran Fellowship Program.

"USDA is helping Afghanistan revitalize its agricultural sector through a variety of activities aimed to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan government, rebuild agricultural markets, and improve management of natural resources," said FAS Administrator Michael Michener. "The Cochran Fellowship Program, now in its 25th year, underscores this Department’s long history of investing in people through education, technical assistance, and trade capacity building. This, as well as other important USDA work in Afghanistan, will help to increase the number of Afghan civilian experts needed to develop the systems and institutions to provide the foundation on which the agricultural economy of the country can prosper."

Colorado State University is one of more than 100 U.S. colleges and universities that comprise the Land-Grant University System. A land-grant college or university is an institution that has been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive unique federal support. Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences are contributing to the Afghan Fellows’ study tour.

The tour, from Oct. 26 through Nov. 21, allows the Fellows to meet with U.S. research and extension personnel working directly with farmers and industry on broad-based livestock health issues. Visits and seminars will focus on herd health and nutrition, sheep and goat production, bio-security, livestock auctions, and visits to the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Rocky Mountain Regional Animal Health Laboratory.

Afghanistan is looking to develop an effective corps of veterinary field units based on the U.S. model, where private veterinarians work with the nation’s cooperative extension service and also interact with private farmers. Fellows will see how the U.S. model allows private veterinarians to work with a system of local and regional offices staffed by agricultural experts who provide practical and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes.

The Cochran Program is administered by FAS. It provides U.S.-based agricultural training for senior and mid-level specialists and administrators from public and private sector institutions abroad. Cochran Fellows traditionally have careers in agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, and marketing in their home countries. Since 2004, the Cochran Program has provided training to 30 Afghans, including 18 women. USDA began administering the Cochran Program 25 years ago after the program’s namesake, U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, envisioned providing training and support to help developing nations improve their agricultural systems and strengthen and enhance trade links with the United States.

Since its inception in 1984, the Cochran Program has provided training for over 13,500 international participants from 122 countries worldwide. In 2008, the program trained 520 participants from 75 countries. Cochran alumni have made valuable contributions to improving national trade policies and regulatory frameworks that increase market access for American agricultural products.

For more information on USDA efforts in Afghanistan, please visit



Matt Herrick (202) 720-0551


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