July 20, 2016

Schoenfuss LebanonFSCN professors make an impact all over the globe, and this past year Professor Tonya Schoenfuss lent her dairy expertise to dairy plants in Lebanon. 

Professor Schoenfuss traveled to the country twice this year as a part of the Farmer-to-Farmer program through Land O’Lakes.

The Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program sends US volunteers overseas on short-term assignments to address the needs of agribusinesses, farmers and support organizations. The program was initially authorized by Congress in the 1985 Farm Bill and funded through Title V of Public Law 480. The program was designated as the "John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program" in honor of one of the pilots killed September 11, 2001 and of former Congressman Bereuter, who initially sponsored the program. 

Land O’Lakes, headquartered in Minnesota, has been active in sending over 1,300 volunteers in 27 countries since 1987. Recently, they implemented a five-year F2F program in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. With an initial focus on Egypt and Lebanon, Land O’Lakes has been able to mobilize over 190 volunteers in 270 assignments to enhance food safety and quality, increase access to rural finance and also ensure environmental sustainability. 

This past February, Professor Schoenfuss traveled to Baskinta, Lebanon as a dairy expert to help develop new types of cheese. 

“I visited seven different plants, helping out family-owned businesses that didn’t have much scientific technical knowledge,” said Schoenfuss.

Schoenfuss Lebanon CheeseThe plants were already making akkawi, halloumi, arisha, double cream, labneh, baladi and nabulsi cheeses, but with her expertise she was able to expand their knowledge base. Cheeses she introduced and made with the plants included feta, fromage frais and mozzarella.

Four months later Schoenfuss returned to Lebanon, this time working with the Hajjar Dairy in Chtaura to develop blue cheese and Greek yogurt. She helped produce feta, blue cheese and Greek yogurt in the span of a week and a half, while also helping with processing, sourcing and sanitation questions.

She also visited the Hattam Dairy, Skaff Dairy and American University of Beirut, where is developed a collaboration with a faculty member.

“It is a very satisfying experience to help people who really appreciate the assistance,” said Schoenfuss. 

Learn more about the John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program: https://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/agriculture-and-food-security/supporting-agricultural-capacity-development/john-ogonowski

Learn more about Land O’Lakes Farmer-to-Farmer Program: https://www.landolakes.org/Where-We-Work/Middle-East/Egypt/Farmer-to-Farmer