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Let the Good Times Flow for National Dairy Month!

June is an eventful and versatile month—the start of warm summer days, school vacations, and holidays like Father’s Day and Flag Day.  We also celebrate many unusual observances in June such as Heimlich Maneuver Day, National Yo-Yo Day, and National Donut Day. But who can enjoy a donut without a nice, cold glass of milk?  June is the perfect month to combine the two as USDA joins the rest of the country in celebrating National Dairy Month.

For more than 75 years, we have celebrated dairy and all of its goodness during June.  What started out as National Milk Month in 1937 to promote milk consumption and stabilize the dairy demand has turned into a month-long celebration and tradition that acknowledges the dairy industry’s contributions to the United States and around the world.

Dairy has played an important role in America’s history since before the Revolutionary War, but it was not until

Exciting New Markets Open Up For Dairy Farmers Across the U.S.

Every June, USDA joins the rest of the country to celebrate Dairy Month. It is a time to thank our nation’s dairy producers and processors for their tireless work to produce quality dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Here at USDA, besides getting our fill of our favorite dairy products, we celebrate our nation’s dairy industry every day by finding new markets where people can enjoy their products. This often entails working with other countries’ governments to negotiate export and import requirements as well as helping businesses meet these requirements.

Our nation’s dairy exporters reach new markets with the help of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Export certificates are often the critical piece in the trade puzzle. On this front, AMS offers certificates for more than 80% of the countries that accept U.S. dairy exports. Our Dairy Programs can verify that businesses’ dairy products meet export requirements. The AMS Dairy Grading Branch provides export certificates for products or conditions for which they have documentation for or from plants they inspect.

A New Weapon in the Fight to Protect America's Ash Trees is Under Evaluation

May 18-24, 2014 is Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week

In our efforts to preserve and protect American ash trees from the damaging and invasive emerald ash borer (EAB) beetle, APHIS is working diligently to find and implement solutions that have the potential to successfully conserve this beautiful natural resource. Spathius galinae (S. galinae) just could be that newest weapon in the arsenal.

The tiny stingless wasp, about the size of a typical mosquito, targets and attacks EAB larvae living under the bark of ash trees.  Crawling along the bark ridges and furrows, S. galinae somehow senses EAB larvae hidden below.  The wasp not only accurately locates its target, but also is able to determine relative size—showing preference for large EAB larvae.  Once a suitable larva is detected, the female wasp uses its long egg-laying organ (ovipositor) like a hydraulic drill to bore down through the layers of bark and deposit between 5 and 15 eggs on its host.  After the eggs hatch, the wasp offspring feed on the EAB larva, eventually killing it.  A new generation of S. galinae emerges in about 35 days.

USDA Export Development Program Helps Boost U.S. Blueberry Exports

Spring is here and brings with it many fresh healthy foods, including blueberries. Known for their antioxidants, vitamins and fiber, blueberries are a healthy option that is becoming more popular around the world and the U.S. blueberry industry is taking advantage of this demand with the help of the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Market Access Program (MAP).

Through MAP, FAS partners with U.S. agricultural trade associations, cooperatives, state regional trade groups and small businesses to share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities that help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities.

Science that Sells

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA's rich science and research portfolio.

Agriculture is key to any nation’s success.  American farmers continue to be more innovative and productive, providing affordable foods for the U.S. consumer while supporting a robust export market. Global agricultural trade is complex, constantly changing, with multi-layered requirements that have to be met before a grower can get his product into another country.

Although a general export certificate is issued for most agricultural products, some countries require certification based on scientific testing.  USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service provides the service and scientific expertise that helps American farmers export their products.

Made in Rural America: Value-added Agriculture Takes Oregon Wool from Ranch to Runway and, Now, to the Olympics

I am thrilled to share with you some very good news from Oregon’s high desert. Ralph Lauren, the iconic American brand and U.S. Olympic team sponsor, recently announced they will be using wool produced by one of our Value Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG) participants, Imperial Stock Ranch, to make sweaters for Team USA to wear at the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

The news would be big for any small rural business. For one working tirelessly to find new ways to profitably preserve Central Oregon’s nearly extinct--yet very American--tradition of raising sheep for fiber, this is especially gratifying.

Imperial Yarn is the value-added business offshoot of Jeanne and Dan Carver’s family owned and operated Imperial Stock Ranch, which produces sheep, cattle, grains, hay and grasses on more than 30,000 acres of stunning Central Oregon rangeland.

Alaska's Chugach National Forest Provides a World-Class Training Ground for Olympic Hopefuls

America’s elite, Olympic-bound Nordic skiers have a high-altitude secret they hope will give them an edge in Sochi, Russia, during the 2014 Winter Olympics in late February.

Team members take a 10-minute helicopter ride from sea level up to Eagle Glacier on Alaska’s Chugach National Forest, the most northern national forest in the U.S. The environment there mimics what they expect to find in Sochi.

The glacier, 5,500 feet above Girdwood, Alaska, is home to the Thomas Training Center operated under permit by the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center. The ski center was established in the late 1990s as a model for creating international success in American Nordic skiing.

Expanding the Circle of Ag Chief Scientists Across the Globe

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

There are no borders around the opportunities and challenges we face in agricultural science.  Agricultural science priorities in one country are often shared by others.  That’s why agricultural science, whether national or international, benefits from being addressed globally and cooperatively.

That’s exactly what was discussed at the second G-20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS), hosted in June of this year by the Russian Federation, which currently serves in the role of 2013 G-20 President.  The MACS is an initiative endorsed by G20 Leaders, their Agriculture Vice Ministers and other International Research Organizations such as CGIAR because they know the value of identifying global research priorities and targets, facilitating collaboration between public and private sector organizations in key areas, and tracking progress on established goals over time. At the most recent meeting, we completed the MACS terms of reference, which established the operating parameters for this continuing forum.  To read more about the meeting, click here for the proceedings.

Paris Air Show a Hit for USDA Partners

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Most people don’t equate aviation with agriculture, but two USDA partners, Washington State University (WSU) and members of a Texas 4-H Club, received the chance to participate in the 2013 Paris Air Show, which was held June 17-23.

In 2010, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded WSU with a $40 million grant to develop effective alternative biofuels for commercial and military jets. The project, the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), is working to convert closed timber mills into bioenergy development centers, which will improve the economic potential of rural communities affected by the downturn in timber production. The team is focusing on feedstock development, sustainable forest production and establishing new methods to identify the most promising plant lines for biofuel conversion. NARA aims to develop a regional source of renewable aviation fuel for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Forestry Students Vie for a Trip to Russia

The International Jr. Foresters’ Competition is an annual event hosted by the Russian Federal Forestry Agency.  It promotes and rewards young scientists for their interest and efforts in the environmental field and encourages international dialogue about forestry issues.

Individual youth ages 16-20 submit projects on topics such as forest science and silviculture, wildlife ecology and plant ecology. Projects will be presented to an international panel of judges (each contestant will give a 10-minute presentation) to compete for public recognition and valuable prizes.