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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on a 21st Century Regulatory System

In January, President Obama called upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture and all other U.S. agencies to perform a government-wide review of current federal regulations to update, streamline and remove excessive rules. This review, prompted by Executive Order 13563, was intended to minimize burdens on individuals, businesses and communities attempting to access programs that promote economic growth, improve access to resources, create jobs, and protect the health and safety of the American people.

Since then, USDA has sought public comment on best practices for simplifying and reducing reporting burdens for entry into critical programs, while reducing administrative and operating costs by sharing data across relevant agencies.  These programs range from rural economic development initiatives, to measures governing national forest usage and soil conservation, to emergency producer assistance as a result of natural disasters.

USDA Agencies have identified a number of programs and activities that will be modified in order to improve services to those we serve. Examples include:

  • Rural Development:  RD will streamline and synchronize requirements for its application procedures for Business, Community Facilities, Energy, and Water and Environmental Programs, potentially reducing workload to lenders and borrowers by as much as 25 percent, thus improving program access for rural America.

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service:  NRCS will simplify participation in technical and financial assistance programs, streamline the delivery and timeliness of conservation assistance to clients, and enhance the technical quality of NRCS’ conservation planning and services.  This would allow field staff to spend more time on conservation planning in the field and could reduce the amount of time required for producers to participate in USDA’s conservation programs by almost 800,000 hours annually.
  • Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services :  The Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS)  will consolidate information collection requests in farm programs administered by FSA and the Federal Crop Insurance Program administered by RMA.  This would allow for common program data to be collected and utilized by multiple agency programs, eliminating duplication.
  • Food Safety and Inspection Service:  FSIS will implement measures to decrease the recordkeeping burden on industry, by possibly reducing requirements for meat, poultry, and egg product labels to be submitted for approval before they may be used.

  • Food Nutrition Service: The Food Nutrition Service will increase the use of direct certification in conjunction with Child Nutrition Programs and SNAP, reducing duplicative paperwork and saving participants roughly 113,000 hours per year. These efforts could ultimately reach over 3 million more students and provide access to free school meals without need for a paper application.

Thank you to all who have submitted comments, and to those who continue to search for avenues to bring positive change. We will continue our commitment to improving regulatory culture so all Americans can access essential programs and resources as we out-build and out-innovate the rest of the world.

For additional information on Regulatory Reform please visit the whitehouse.gov/regulatoryreform.

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