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Secretary’s Column: Strengthening American Agriculture

At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we are looking for new ways to help America’s producers succeed every single day. We want farmers and growers with operations of all sizes to be profitable and to make the decisions that are best for their land and their families.

We know that when agriculture is healthy and rural America is healthy, it helps support our nation as a whole.

That is why we have worked to help strengthen American agriculture by expanding markets for our goods and supporting innovation.

With our global trading partners, we work aggressively to break down trade barriers – and we are reaching out to producers and enterprises of all sizes with information about how to tackle the export market and financing to make it happen.

You may not know it, but this year should be the best ever for American agricultural exports. They’ll top $137 billion dollars and support over one million American jobs.

At the same time, we are looking to expand opportunities for producers to sell their products regionally and in their own communities. Making these sorts of connections – so a farmer can sell to a local school, hospital, or a family just a few dozen miles away – helps keep wealth right here in America, and is creating good paying jobs in our rural communities.

This week I was lucky to participate in a celebration of Maryland’s agricultural economy. You may not know it, but this relatively small state is one of the top producers of poultry in the nation. And like many other states such as Michigan, Oklahoma, Vermont and Oregon, they have embraced local and regional markets, and celebrated them with a ‘Buy Local’ week and awards to folks helping create jobs through regional and local food systems.

Finally, we are working to drive innovation through cutting edge research. In the past few years alone, USDA has helped reveal the genetic blueprints for a host of plants and animals including corn, soybeans, pigs and turkeys to help combat diseases and increase productivity. This builds on our long-standing partnership with American farmers – which has helped them double, triple and even quadruple yields of major crops in my lifetime.

As I travel the country, I love to hear from farmers, ranchers and growers who are doing new and exciting things with their operations and helping create jobs in their communities. They are breaking into new markets at home and abroad, becoming more productive, and benefitting from efforts to produce renewable energy here at home.

Here at USDA, we will always work to support good markets and innovation so that we have a stronger agriculture industry and rural America to pass on to the next generation.

You can find the audio version of the weekly message here.

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