This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
The United States produces twenty-five percent of the world's cheese. A trade group, the Dairy Export Council, says producers made more than four million metric tons of it from cow's milk last year.
And the industry is growing. Cheese production increased by more than ten percent from two thousand one through the start of this year.
The state of Wisconsin in the Midwest leads the country in cheese production. Wisconsin faces strong competition from California. But another notable cheese-making state is Vermont.
Vermont is already famous for maple syrup. But local experts say that per person, it has the largest number of cheese-makers of any state. Vermont is a small state in the Northeast, on the border with Canada.
Cheese-makers in Vermont make more than one hundred kinds of cheese with milk from cows, sheep, goats and water buffalo. Cheeses made the traditional way use raw milk. The producers say the milk tastes better without going through the heating process of pasteurization.
Almost forty cheese-makers are along the Vermont Cheese Trail around the state. Many welcome visitors. The huge Cabot Creamery in Montpelier has a visitors center and offers guided tours.
In the fall, when many people come to Vermont to watch the leaves change color, Cabot may give as many as four hundred tours daily. Even in winter, about fifty to one hundred groups see Cabot's cheddar cheese in the making.
At the Three Owls Farm, visitors can pay to watch cheese being made from sheep's milk. They can even milk a sheep.
The University of Vermont offers classes in cheese-making through the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese. Teachers include visiting experts from other countries. Some recent classes were on English cheddar and Italian cheeses.
A man named Consider Bardwell built Vermont's first cheese factory in eighteen sixty-four. Today, the Consider Bardwell Farm still produces goat cheese.
The arrival of railroads long ago opened new markets to cheese from Vermont. Cheese traveled better than milk without the cold storage that came later. Refrigerated train cars meant that Vermont farmers could market their products widely.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. For transcripts and MP3 files of our reports, go to WWW.51VOA.COM. I'm Bob Doughty.