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June is Dairy Month – a Time to Say Thanks to America’s Milk Producers

Roger Erickson takes pride in the success of his dairy operation in Clark County, Wis. NRCS photo.

Roger Erickson takes pride in the success of his dairy operation in Clark County, Wis. NRCS photo.

The next time you eat a cheese sandwich, drink a glass of cold milk, have an ice cream cone or a cup of yogurt on a walk through the park, thank the dairy farmers who made it all possible.  Now is a great time to do that because June is Dairy Month.

The dairy industry is an important economic engine in America. The farm value of milk production is second only to beef among livestock industries and is equal to corn. Milk is produced in all 50 states, with the major producing states in the West and North. Dairy farms, overwhelmingly family-owned and managed, are generally members of producer cooperatives. Read more »

Farming on the Rise in Connecticut

Farming in Connecticut is big, even if it is the third smallest state. Check back next Thursday to learn more about the 2012 Census of Agriculture as we spotlight another state.

Farming in Connecticut is big, even if it is the third smallest state. Check back next Thursday to learn more about the 2012 Census of Agriculture as we spotlight another state.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Connecticut may be the third smallest state in the Union, but it has a large agricultural presence, as the results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture showed.

Bucking the national trend, Connecticut farming has been growing for the past two decades. We now have nearly 6,000 farms, which may not seem like a lot, but it’s a staggering 60 percent increase from the 3,754 farms we had in our state in 1982. At the same time, our farmland acreage remained relatively stable, which means that the size of an average farm has been trending down. As of 2012, an average Connecticut farm is 73 acres. Read more »

California Producer Preserves Rare Breed

Not even a three year drought weakens Glenn Nakagawa’s resolve or determination to maintain his herd and protect the unique genetics of his American Wagyu cattle.

Not even a three year drought weakens Glenn Nakagawa’s resolve or determination to maintain his herd and protect the unique genetics of his American Wagyu cattle.

This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

The Nakagawa Ranch (Valley Springs, Calif.), owned and operated by Glenn and Keiko Nakagawa, is a cattle operation steeped in history and tradition. The Nakagawas raise American Wagyu (Wa = Japanese and, Gyu= Cow) cattle, originating in Japan, but bred today in the U.S. for their excellent meat quality and calving ease.

Nakagawa is a third generation rancher who owns and works the same ground his grandfather, an immigrant from Hiroshima, Japan purchased two days before Pearl Harbor — an event that would force the entire Nakagawa family into internment camps until 1946 when they were able to return home to the ranch. Read more »

Silver City, NM, Student Draws Winning Poster for Homeownership Month

State Director Terry Brunner presents an award to Mireya Cisneros as her parents and her younger brother look on.

State Director Terry Brunner presents an award to Mireya Cisneros as her parents and her younger brother look on.

The Sixth Street Elementary School in Silver City, New Mexico, has seen a lot of students over the years.  But May 8th 2014 was a very special day at the 130-year-old school. Why? Because 10-year-old Mireya Cisneros, a fourth grader, was honored for her winning illustration for New Mexico’s 2014 National Homeownership Month poster contest.

The theme, “What my home means to me!” was the inspiration for the fourth and fifth grade students who participated in the contest held by USDA Rural Development in New Mexico. Read more »

The Win-Win Situation of Selling Food to USDA

Bill Smittcamp (center), pictured here with his son, Blake, and grandson is president of Wawona Frozen Foods. “USDA has always been very supportive and open to working with small business and the fruit and vegetable industry as a whole,” said Smittcamp, “They listen to our concerns and work with us. The ability to have a conversation with an organization like USDA gives us confidence in our ability to grow our business.”

Bill Smittcamp (center), pictured here with his son, Blake, and grandson is president of Wawona Frozen Foods. “USDA has always been very supportive and open to working with small business and the fruit and vegetable industry as a whole,” said Smittcamp, “They listen to our concerns and work with us. The ability to have a conversation with an organization like USDA gives us confidence in our ability to grow our business.”

USDA’s purchase programs were created to support our nation’s farmers through the purchase of domestic products and to increase Americans’ access to nutritious food.  Many businesses who sell to USDA find that the programs also create other opportunities for growth.

Companies like Wawona Frozen Foods have used the Commodity Purchase Program, administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), as a reliable outlet for their products.  The consistent opportunities offered through government contracting allowed them to eventually expand into commercial foodservice and retail markets.  For nearly 20 years, Wawona competitively bid for contracts and provided quality, nutritious foods to USDA programs. As a dependable USDA vendor, they supply more than 50 million frozen fruit cups to the National School Lunch Program each year. Read more »

Let’s Move Outside All Summer Long

Unplug is a public service campaign of the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council.

Unplug is a public service campaign of the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council.

Summer is fast approaching but packing up the kids to head outside could be daunting, especially for those whose experience with outdoor activities is limited.

But don’t worry. With a little help and some simple planning, the whole crew will want to unplug and find activities that will invigorate not just the body, but the mind. The opportunities to show our kids how to eat healthy and be active can stay with them for a life time. Young children and the young at heart will enjoy summer days filled with picnics and outdoor barbecues that create great memories. Read more »