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Secretary’s Column: Three Years of Accomplishments

As we begin the year, I want to share with you a few numbers that help measure USDA’s impact for America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities over the past three years:

  • To help keep American agriculture profitable and keep farmers on the farm, USDA maintained a strong safety net.  Over the past three years, our crop insurance program has paid out about $16.2 billion to more than 325,000 farmers who lost crops to natural disasters.  Other programs have provided nearly $3.5 billion in aid to help more than 250,000 farmers and ranchers recover from natural disasters.
  • In three years, USDA provided 103,000 loans to family farmers who needed our support.  And we have worked with over a half a million farmers to pursue conservation agreements and easements – enrolling a record number of acres in conservation programs and contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to our rural economy and supporting many jobs.
  • At the same time, we have made historic investments in America’s rural communities, financing 50,000 rural small and mid-sized businesses – helping to create or save 266,000 jobs.
  • We invested in broadband service for nearly seven million rural residents and helped to build or renovate over 6,200 community facilities including hospitals, schools, fire and police stations and libraries.
  • We helped 456,000 rural families in more than 21,000 communities buy or refinance a home.

And this work is producing real results:

  • Agriculture has been a bright spot in the economy.  Farm family household income is up and Ag producers had their best income in over 40 years.
  • Over the last three years, the unemployment rate in rural America has dropped more quickly than anyplace else in the country.

It is a new year at USDA – and I look forward to what we can accomplish in the weeks and months to come.  I know that we can build on our record to help farmers, ranchers, businesses, rural communities and the American people.

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

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