I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Rebecca Blue, and I am the new Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. I’m excited to join the MRP team and to help contribute to the great work that they have been doing.
Last week I had the opportunity to travel to South Dakota and take part in the Value Added Ag Day at the South Dakota State Fair. I participated in a panel discussion with the South Dakota Value Added Agriculture Development Center where we highlighted the partnership that USDA has with the Center, and how this work enhances rural communities by creating rural agribusiness. Panelists included representatives from Hanson County Oilseed Processors, Elkton Locker, and Intraglobal Biologics. I was blown away by the innovative projects that are being developed and how USDA and the Center were able to help these small and beginning rural businesses succeed. It was great to see how these projects are keeping and creating wealth right here in America, and creating good paying jobs in our rural communities.
During my visit I also traveled to Brookings, S.D. where I held a White House Rural Roundtable with students and faculty at South Dakota State University, my alma mater. It was great to hear from both of these groups and the different issues they are facing. Many of these ag students indicated that they would like to go back to the farm after graduation, however, they were concerned with access to credit and the high cost of getting started. Another concern raised was how the importance of agriculture and research seems to be slipping away and they discussed their thoughts on how this could be changed in the future.
It was such a pleasure to interact with so many great people during my visit to South Dakota. From the innovative projects that are being developed, to the great students and faculty at SDSU, it is clear that South Dakota has a bright future ahead of them.