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Farm donates cow embryos to Argentina

BRIDPORT Three Vermont farms have successfully shipped 50 Holstein cow embryos to Argentina. The sale is the result of an initiative that began in 2005 between the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Vermonts dairy farmers. A 2005 mission to Argentina and Uruguay, coordinated by Vermonts Agency of Agriculture and supported by U.S. Livestock Genetics Export (USLGE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, included a Vermont dairy farmer and an international marketing consultant. The consultant, Jairo Blanco, a resident of South Burlington and native of Colombia, approached the Agency of Agriculture in 2004 with the idea of selling embryos to South American dairy farmers. Blanco had previously worked with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture on bovine exports. The agencys Agricultural Marketing Specialist Steve Justis, who has worked with agricultural exports since 1985, agreed to work with Blanco. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture joined USLGE, a USDA cooperator organization, in 1999. USLGE is one of about 75 national organizations funded through the U.S. farm bill. The agencys initial efforts were directed at exporting caprine, ovine and equine species. Vermont also participates in export organizations for dairy, apples and value-added products The original trade mission to Argentina in April 2005 resulted in a follow-up buyers mission of four dairy industry leaders from Argentina and Uruguay just three months later. A trade delegation of four South American buyers toured Vermont Jersey, Brown Swiss and Holstein cow operations across the state. This is an exciting and innovative program that will assist dairy farmers in Vermont. I appreciate the efforts of all those involved who worked together to make this program successful, said Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee. Vermont produces some of the highest quality milk anywhere, because we have some of the highest quality dairy animals in the world. The dairy industry is growing globally, and we need to make our dairy genetics better known to potential buyers, said Allbee. This trade mission will help to improve dairy quality in Argentina and offers another way for Vermont dairy farmers to diversify their businesses. The first order of 50 frozen bovine embryos came from three Vermont farms, including an unidentified farm in Addison County. The value of the order is approximately $30,000, which is paid directly to the farmer. Through the efforts of Blanco and Justis, Vermont has assembled an embryo donor catalog, including pedigrees and production records for 120 registered donor cows. Vermont is planning another buyers mission later this year. Argentinas milk production has been growing at a rate of four to five percent annually over the past few years. The average Argentinean dairy cow produces 10,000 pounds of milk annually, over 300 percent higher than the South American average of 3,000 pounds. The annual per cow production in the U.S., however, is nearly double that of Argentina, just under 20,000 pounds. The U.S. dairy herd is over ten million cows. Argentina has just over two million cows. Agency of Agriculture staff expects dairy genetics sales opportunities to grow in Argentina and other South American countries through the next decade.

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