• MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Command Sgt. Maj. Russell Prince, 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, of Sneads Ferry, N.C., hands out toys to children on a dairy farm south of Baghdad, June 23.  Soldiers with the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, and a family of Iraqi dairy farmers are spearheading a pilot program designed to increase milk and cheese production in the Mahmudiyah area.

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Command Sgt. Maj. Russell...

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Command Sgt. Maj. Russell Prince, 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, of Sneads Ferry, N.C., hands out toys to children on a dairy farm south of Baghdad, June 23. Soldiers with the 120th Combined Arms...

  • MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Iraqi family members gather near the entrance to their house as members of the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team visit, June 23.

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Iraqi family members gather...

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Iraqi family members gather near the entrance to their house as members of the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team visit, June 23.

  • MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Lt. Col. Jack Mellott, commander of the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, talks with owners of a dairy farm south of Baghdad, June 23.

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Lt. Col. Jack Mellott...

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Lt. Col. Jack Mellott, commander of the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, talks with owners of a dairy farm south of Baghdad, June 23.

  • 090623-A-8124P-015
MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Sgt.Kenneth Steinbronn, 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, hands a stuffed toy to an infant at a dairy farm near Mahmudiyah, June 23.  Steinbronn, of Dorchester, N.C., and other members of the North Carolina Army National Guard brigade are working with a family of Iraqi dairy farmers to spearhead a pilot program to increase milk and cheese production in the Mahmudiyah area.

    090623-A-8124P-015 MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq ...

    090623-A-8124P-015 MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Sgt.Kenneth Steinbronn, 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, hands a stuffed toy to an infant at a dairy farm near Mahmudiyah, June 23. Steinbronn, of Dorchester, N.C., and other members...

  • MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - An Iraqi woman shows off the butter that was made on her family's farm near Mahmudiyah, June 23. Soldiers with the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, and a family of Iraqi dairy farmers are spearheading a pilot program designed to increase milk and cheese production in the area south of Baghdad.

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - An Iraqi woman shows off the...

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - An Iraqi woman shows off the butter that was made on her family's farm near Mahmudiyah, June 23. Soldiers with the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, and a family of Iraqi dairy farmers are spearheading a...

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq- Soldiers with the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, and a family of Iraqi dairy farmers are spearheading a pilot program designed to increase milk and cheese production in the Mahmudiyah area, south of Baghdad.

This is the first dairy initiative that the North Carolina Army National Guard Soldiers have started with the Iraqis.

Capt. Sara Woods, Civil Affairs Team 31, said the intent is to revitalize the area's dairy industry.

Using micro grants, the pilot farm will be used to build a well and buy cheese-making equipment. The farmers' part of the program begins with them logging their dairy production.

"This will help them generate better milk and dairy products, which is going to improve the entire dairy process throughout the area," said Woods.

While Soldiers searched for a suitable pilot farm, the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Jack Mellott, of Fayetteville, N.C., actually noticed this farm while on patrol.

"Our mission was to stop and to talk with everyone who had cows," said Spc. Justin Gay, of Panama City, Fla., who was part of Mellott's patrol. "We hit the nail on the head when we stopped at that farm because they had the most cows, and the best operation going on."

This particular farm is a perfect candidate for the new program, said Woods, because of the large number of milking cows on the farm.

As well as having a large number of cows, the family farm also has a large workforce: 70 family members ranging from infants to elderly.

While the program is kicking off on this one farm, the results will eventually be used to assist farms throughout the area.

"We want to start small and figure out how well the programs work," said Woods, of Janesville, Minn. "We need to figure out how to do the micro grants, and how to work with the farmers to see what they need to increase their dairy, without just telling them what to do."

Page last updated Tue June 30th, 2009 at 18:11