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The USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) orchestrated the sale of more than 300 U.S. heifers to Pakistani commercial and research farms, reopening that export market for the first time in 17 years. The last shipment occurred in 1999 when only 11 animals made the trip to the Asian nation.

In 2001, Pakistan closed its borders to live animal imports from countries that had experienced a BSE infection. The first confirmed case of BSE occurred in the U.S. in 2003, and since that time, no live American dairy cattle have been allowed to make the trip.

The re-entry comes just as the Pakistani dairy industry moves to modernize. The country's $23 billion dairy market ranked fifth in the world but remains primarily driven by small, traditional farms. In 2014, Pakistan had a national herd size of more than 65 million animals (cattle and water buffalo) with at least 35 million people in the dairy sector, putting the average herd size just below two animals per person.

In the past several years, the country has seen growth in its commercial dairy enterprise and movement toward high-yielding livestock practices. These advances left Pakistani dairy producers requesting the reopening of live animal imports from the U.S.

The 300 head of American heifers entered Punjab Province on March 2 and will be primarily dispersed to commercial dairy farms. Seventy-three of the animals will call the newly established Pattoki Training and Research Demonstration Farm home. The model dairy farm is a joint effort of FAS, USAID and Pakistan's University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS). According to a USDA press release, the new facility will train Pakistani students, herd managers and extension agents in modern herd management and health practices while demonstrating the benefits of American dairy genetics.

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March 14, 2016
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