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.
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