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Vilsack meets with Cochran Program alumni

SHANGHAI, China — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met recently with alumni of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Cochran Fellowship Program in Shanghai, China. At a sit-down reception with about 15 Cochran Fellows, Vilsack thanked the alumni for their hard work and on selecting a career of vital importance to global trade and development.

The Cochran program is administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (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. In China, the Cochran program has provided training to 660 Chinese fellows since 1989, including 19 in 2009 to-date and 30 in 2008. Fields of study have included food safety, meat and poultry inspection, dairy management, and plant variety and protection.

USDA began administering the Cochran program 25 years ago after the program’s namesake, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), 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 received 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.

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