Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine hosts Armenian officials

The college’s Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine recently hosted the Armenian minister and deputy minister of agriculture in Washington, D.C. and Harrisonburg, Virginia. Valerie Ragan, director of the center, has had a long-standing partnership with the Armenian government to work on brucellosis control in the Eastern European country.

Sergo Karapetyan, the Armenian minister of agriculture (far left) listens closely as dairy farm manager Keith Wilson explains the brucellosis control measures followed at Cave View Farms in Weyers Cave. Also pictured (l-r) are Gagik Sardaryan, CEO of Armenia's Center for Agribusiness and Rural Development, Virginia state veterinarian Richard Wilkes, translator Levon Gulkhasyan, and Valerie Ragan.

Sergo Karapetyan, the Armenian minister of agriculture, and Armen Harutyunyan, deputy minister of agriculture, were accompanied on their trip by Gagik Sardaryan and Tigran Haroyan, two officials from Armenia’s Center for Agribusiness and Rural Development. They first traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of a USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) program on developing a national strategy for improved brucellosis control in Armenia.

There they met up with Ragan who, along with David White from the Foreign Ag Service, took the group to Harrisonburg, Virginia, where they heard from Virginia state veterinarian Richard Wilkes, and toured the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ brucellosis testing laboratory.

They also visited Cave View Farms, a large Weyers Cave dairy owned by Gerald Garber.

Valerie Ragan (center) explains paperwork used by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ brucellosis testing laboratory to Armenian Minister of Agriculture Sergo Karapetyan (l) and Gagik Sardaryan from Armenia's Center for Agribusiness and Rural Development.

At the farm, the delegation toured the facility where modern technology like robotic milkers, automatic feeding systems, and tracking systems are in use. Farm manager Keith Wilson willingly answered the group’s many questions

“Armenia is setting up a new direction for their national brucellosis program and is trying to learn from the U.S. program. We have trained two veterinarians from Armenia, as part of the FAS program, who are working to set up their new enhanced program,” said Ragan. “The purpose of this trip was to have the minister understand the program, and provide an understanding of how to implement effective regulatory disease programs. They told us that the visit far exceeded their expectations and gave them much to think about as they work to improve the animal health infrastructure in Armenia.”

Following the trip, Ragan traveled to Armenia, meeting again with the minister of agriculture and his team, as well as a minister-appointed task force charged with developing a brucellosis eradication strategy for the country. She also met with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Armenia and visited a regional and a national laboratory as part of the development of a brucellosis laboratory quality control system for the country.

A laboratory technician at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ brucellosis testing laboratory in Harrisonburg explains how a test is conducted to (l-r) Armenian Minister of Agriculture Sergo Karapetyan, translator Levon Gulkhasyan, and Deputy Minister Armen Harutyunyan.