|commentary from Agriculture Secretary Vilsak|
1. Led what was widely called “the most successful Farm Bill implementation.”
After the passage of the Farm Bill early this year, USDA pressed ahead at full speed to implement its programs and provisions, which have benefited America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. You can track our progress at www.usda.gov/farmbill.
2. Helped 146,000 rural Americans become first-time home buyers.
USDA has helped thousands of rural Americans achieve the dream of home ownership, and helped countless more make critical repairs and upgrades to their homes. Learn more at www.rurdev.usda.gov.
3. Achieved a record $152.5 billion in farm and ranch exports that supported 1 million jobs here at home.
America’s farmers and ranchers achieved record exports yet again this year, supported by Administration programs focused on opening markets abroad and connecting potential exporters here at home with the resources they need to get into the business of exporting. This year, we also launched the Made in Rural America initiative, an effort to help rural businesses export non-farm products made in rural communities.
4. Launched new initiatives that take public-private partnership to the next level in rural America.
Over the course of 2014, USDA launched several new initiatives, including the $10 billion Rural Infrastructure Opportunity fund, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and the $150 million Rural Business Investment Company, that leverage funding from private sector investors to build on USDA’s own investments in conservation, infrastructure, and small businesses, and expand opportunity in rural communities. Learn more at www.usda.gov/opportunity.
5. Served more than 187 million summer meals to low-income kids, an increase of more than 14 percent since 2009.
During the summer months, USDA’s summer meals help make sure that kids get the nutrition they need even when school is not in session. With strong support from local partners, we’ve reached a record number of kids and ensured that they begin the next school year healthy and ready to learn. Learn more at www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp.
6. Filed 109 patent applications for innovative products and techniques developed by USDA researchers.
Groundbreaking research conducted by USDA scientists ends up on your plate, in your home and as the clothes on your back. Their discoveries in the lab translate into science you can see. And thanks to the new Farm Bill, USDA was able to establish the new Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research, which will leverage public and private resources to further boost agricultural research. For more stories on how USDA research impacts your everyday life, visit blogs.usda.gov/category/science.