Des Moines, Iowa, Aug 12, 2013 -- From pork chops on a stick to deep fried cupcakes, the Iowa State Fair is as tasty as it is big.
If you stop to ask children eating those delicious foods just where the butter in their deep fried butter on a stick came from, the answers they give are nearly as fun as the food.
More than 8,000 children and their parents attending the 2013 Iowa State Fair are discovering connections between their food, energy and agriculture by taking part the AgVenture Discovery Trail, sponsored, in part, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“With less than two percent of our nation’s population living on farms today, the disconnect between people and food is growing,” said Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa. “In Iowa especially, where agriculture plays such a large role, we have a responsibility to answer questions and encourage learning and cooperation between our ag and urban communities from a young age.”
The AgVenture Discovery Trail is designed as a fun way to help children learn more about their food, energy and agriculture, and ask questions of farmers and agriculture community members along the way.
“USDA is extremely pleased to be a sponsor and participant in this educational and fun activity,” Menner said. “The trail offers a great way to see the fair and check out some places and buildings you may not always visit.”
Each stop on the trail provides an opportunity to learn a fact about farming and rural America, many of which highlighted the important role Iowa plays in providing an abundant and safe food and energy supply. This year the trail took families to such places as the Cattle Barn, Agriculture Building, Animal Learning Center, and Sheep Barn.
Facts learned along the way include:
• Many Iowa pork producers are third and fourth generation farmers.
• There are more than 93,000 Iowa farm families.
• Iowa has at least 11,000 different soils that make up some of the richest, most productive land in the world.
• There are nearly 1,700 dairy farms in Iowa.
• There are nearly 895,000 beef cows in Iowa.
• 67 percent of FFA members in Iowa do not come from a farm.
• Each year Iowa sheep farmers produce approximately 235,000 sheep.
• Each year Iowa turkey farmers produce approximately 8.2 million turkeys.
• Iowa ranks first in U.S. egg production.
• Less than 2 percent of the population is involved in farming.
• Today farmers in Iowa grow the most soybeans of any state. (Nearly 400 million bushels last year.)
Contact USDA Rural Development
To contact USDA Rural Development in Iowa please call (515) 284-4663 or visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/ia. USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.7 million Iowans living in rural communities. Office locations include a State Office in Des Moines, along with Area Offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.
This past year USDA Rural Development’s investment in Iowa helped create or retain more than 1,600 jobs, aided 2,400 families in buying their own homes and assisted more than 60 communities as they made improvements to their facilities, services and infrastructure.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.
USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
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