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Last month, we told you about a Utah State University man heading to Baghdad to introduce Iraqis to Utah cattle. Now he's back and says the trip was a success.
When we first heard about Lyle Holmgren's planned trip to Baghdad, we met up with the USU agriculture extension agent to ask him why Iraq? Now that he's back home in Box Elder County, the answer is simple: "I think we were able to accomplish the goals that we set out when we went to go," he said.
Those goals: to introduce Utah cattle to Iraqis, form a relationship with Iraqi ranchers, and build a partnership with the right people there to create a new beef market. "It was a great trip. We had a wonderful opportunity," he said.
Holmgren took pictures during the Baghdad trade show. The highlight was a big dinner during which Iraqis tasted Utah beef for the first time. "Oh yeah, they ate it all up," Holmgren said.
Now they want more, meaning there's a good chance Utah cattle ranchers will have new customers.
William Westbrook was a consultant for the trip. He said, "I believe it's going to work."
He helped with paperwork, financing, logistics, and other red-tape type issues. He says the selling point is the quality of our beef versus what Iraqis are accustomed to. "They will just butcher it right there on the ground, and it will be immediately hung and sold," he explained.
Utah State's presence there also interested some Iraqi students, who want to learn more about engineering and agriculture. It all could be the beginning of a great relationship.
Holmgren said, "I think that's the best way to encourage peace in the whole world, is for people to do business with each other."
Especially if that business includes some Utah barbecue sauce, which Holmgren says was an Iraqi favorite.
Of course, there is still a lot of work to do before this happens. But the trip, Holmgren believes, was a good step forward.