Members of the Arkansas National Guard’s Agricultural Development Team, which is scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan in the spring of 2010, recently received training from University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture animal science and poultry science faculty members at the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center and the Leland Tollett Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Four team members who will work with farmers and help train other U.S. personnel and Afghan counterparts were instructed in care, diagnosis and treatment related to animal health issues with cattle, sheep, goats, poultry and horses.

The instructors, all veterinarians in the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, were Dustan Clark, Cooperative Extension Service poultry veterinarian; Jeremy Powell, associate professor of animal science; and Steve Breeding, director of the Leland Tollett Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The training included classroom instruction and hands-on work with animals and with carcasses to learn about anatomy and post-mortem diagnosis.

The team is made up of volunteers from Army and Air Force National Guard units across the state.

The UA Division of Agriculture also provided a week of training for team members last November. The intensive veterinary training in January was for four team members who will serve as animal health experts. While working in Afghanistan, team members will be able to consult with UA Division of Agriculture scientists via the Internet.

Col. Steven Redman, commander of the Arkansas Agriculture Development Team, said, “We are the first ADT in this particular province, so the reach-back consulting piece is an integral part of the mission. The ability to access the research and experience of the university professionals will help ensure the success of our team in dealing with unique farming issues.”

Team member Lt. Col. David Sheely said the teams will augment Provincial Reconstruction Teams with information and farming expertise. The mission focuses on developing or improving current farming practices, managing soil and water natural resources and developing post-harvest industries for the products in order to renew a long-term, profitable and sustainable agricultural economy in Afghanistan, he said.

ADT teams are also being fielded from California, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

The volunteer team members bring experience in row crop farming, irrigation, cattle and poultry production, soil science and agricultural education.