SHELDON — Sheldon farmer Bill Rowell met his match in Awatif Ait El Haj, an engineer from Morocco’s Dept. of Agriculture, who had lots of detailed questions about the operation of Green Mountain Dairy during a tour of the farm on Monday.

Ait El Haj was part of a delegation that included representatives from Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Iraq, in the United States as part of a State Dept. tour focused on trade.

For Rowell, the visitors, from countries with a combined population of more than 218 million, represent a potential market for Vermont dairy products.

“We have an excess of milk,” said Rowell. “We need trade.”

He asked the visitors if they were interested in butter.

Abdelwahab Elabd said Egypt would be interested in bull semen.

Algeria, meanwhile, was interested in nonfat milk powder, some of which it already purchases from the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery. “We’re one of the biggest importers of milk in Algeria, and it is subsidized by the government,” said the Algerian representative.

There were also questions about cheese. “We have some of the best cheesemakers in the country,” said Rowell.

Inside the calf barn, there were lots of questions about the actual process of raising dairy cows, from feed to gestation to how many years the cows are milked.

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