Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Introducing USDA Results, a Year-Long Storytelling Effort of the Obama Administration’s Work on Behalf of Those Living, Working and Raising Families in Rural America

Today, USDA is launching USDA Results, a progressive, year-long, multimedia storytelling effort showcasing the Administration’s work on behalf of those living, working and raising families in rural America. Each month, USDA will release a new chapter of the story at medium.com/usda-results. We encourage you to check out January’s chapter, Celebrating America’s Farmers and Ranchers: Supporting the Producers Who Ensure a Safe, Affordable, Nutritious American Food Supply, and follow along throughout 2016.

When I began my service as Secretary of Agriculture in 2009, I took the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nickname of the ‘People’s Department’—first coined by President Abraham Lincoln—to heart.

President Lincoln knew the importance of agriculture to national prosperity—particularly at a time when about half of all Americans lived on the farm. He understood the critical responsibility of USDA and government to serve and support American agriculture and the rural communities who have, since the founding of our country, helped to drive innovation and economic growth on a national scale.  

During the 19th Century, farmers and rural Americans helped lift up the country. During the 20th century, the hard work and success of farmers and rural Americans helped to bolster the economy and lay the foundation for the strongest nation on earth. And now again, at the beginning of the 21st Century, the unwavering productivity of farmers and rural Americans is ensuring that America continues for this century to be the freest, safest, greatest nation on earth.

Because of the strength of the agricultural sector, most Americans think that USDA’s work focuses solely on agriculture; that our service to the American people begins and ends with the production of food. But those of us who call rural America home know that there’s much more to USDA and rural America than just farms and ranches. From biobased products to rural manufacturing, the potential to grow and make innovative products in rural America is limitless.

That’s why, over the course of the Obama Administration, USDA has made targeted investments to help rural businesses grow. Through projects in affordable housing, energy efficiency and availability, clean and reliable drinking water and wastewater systems, and internet access, coupled with loans and grants for rural businesses, we’ve helped to attract and retain a talented rural labor force, improve connectivity and access to information, move products to market, and make rural communities competitive—ultimately supporting strong local economies and expanded opportunity for rural Americans.

For more than 150 years, USDA employees have served the people and places of our country that are hard to reach, off the beaten track, or otherwise underserved. As agriculture has changed and evolved over the years, we have not lost sight of Lincoln’s vision. While the number of Americans who are farmers today stands at less than one percent, USDA’s values are still rooted in rural America and service to the American people.

Our legacy of strong service and superior results continues as our work on food, agriculture, economic development, science, natural resource conservation and a host of other issues impacts millions of Americans and billions more people around the world, every day.

We have made investments to support rural places where people can start businesses, where families want to raise their children, where young people want to live. We’ve supported projects that bring needed infrastructure into rural communities and help them grow. We work with farmers and ranchers to provide nutritious, affordable food to every American family. We protect the safety of the American food supply. We battle wildfire, drought, extreme weather, and pest and disease outbreaks to ensure that our land and water resources are preserved for future generations. We work to feed our nation’s youth and help struggling families to put food on the table. We conduct cutting edge research that drives agricultural innovation. We support the international feeding programs that encourage millions of children, particularly young girls, around the world to attend school and get the nutrition they need to grow up healthy and strong. We preserve America’s forests, grasslands and open spaces for the enjoyment of American families.

To help capture the important, and oftentimes heartening, impacts that these investments have brought about in rural communities, USDA is launching a year-long, progressive storytelling effort that focuses on capturing just that—how the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Obama Administration has invested in and achieved results for farmers, ranchers, rural communities and every American.

Each month in 2016, USDA will release a new “chapter” of the story, focused on one aspect of our investment in Americans, rural and urban alike, over the past eight years.

January focuses on celebrating America’s farmers and ranchers, who ensure a safe, affordable, nutritious American food supply. Thanks to those working in American agriculture, we pay less for our food as a percentage of our wages than any other nation in the world. That means we have more money to spend on other things, which is good for our families and the nation’s economy. Thanks to the ingenuity, efficiency, and sweat of those working in American agriculture, we saw our agricultural economy remain strong and resilient, even during some tough times.

As a result of the hard work and sacrifice of farmers, ranchers and producers, Americans enjoy a rich diversity of safe and nutritious food – almost all of which comes from here in America. As a nation, we are fortunate to have the ability to grow and create virtually everything we need to survive. Our farmers, ranchers and foresters, and those in supporting industries, give us the freedom to pursue any path we choose most of us have delegated the responsibility of feeding our families to the American farmer. It’s created this great freedom for us to choose and for that we owe our farmers a debt of gratitude.

I’ve had the privilege of serving as Secretary of Agriculture for nearly eight years—the longest-serving Cabinet Secretary in the Obama Administration and one of the longest-serving Secretaries of Agriculture ever. Over the course of those nearly eight years, I’ve traveled to all 50 states and countries on nearly every continent. I’ve talked to farmers, ranchers and Americans far and wide, from all walks of life. I’ve heard from them firsthand the impact of USDA’s staff, programs and services on their lives and their legacies.

And despite differences in production methods, geography, and demographics, they all agree on one thing: innovation and opportunity are at the heart of the American agriculture success story.

As a matter of course, farmers and ranchers must constantly prepare, invent and adapt so that they’re able to meet whatever tomorrow brings head on. But the idea of rural innovation runs deeper than that. Rural America innovates and constantly strives for improvement, no matter the obstacle. It’s ingrained in the very fiber of their being, just as service is ingrained in USDA’s. Service is at the heart of what good government is and does, a motto that has guided our work over the course of the Obama Administration.

More than twenty years after I entered public service and after nearly eight years as Secretary of Agriculture, I still love my job each day. Whether improving domestic and international access to food, promoting nutrition and safety of our food supply, conserving our natural resources, advancing agricultural exports, or developing the rural economy, USDA helps Americans to lead better lives. I know that I’m not alone in the pride I take in rural America, American agriculture and what USDA employees do to make a difference in the lives of Americans every day. I’m pleased to share with you this yearlong reflection on the results achieved over the course of this Administration, and I hope you enjoy it too.

3 Responses to “Introducing USDA Results, a Year-Long Storytelling Effort of the Obama Administration’s Work on Behalf of Those Living, Working and Raising Families in Rural America”

  1. Lloyd King says:

    This is an excellent idea. The problem with the Obama Administration is that they have achieved so much for the good of the country and average Americans but they do not get their message out to the people. They have been drowned out by the empty rhetoric of Republicans for the last eight years.
    Talk about the good of Obamacare and and all of the other programs that benefit the 99 percenters.

  2. Westerly A. Donohue says:

    I thank both President Obama’s administration, and specifically the USDA, for the hard work undertaken to achieve more food equality in rural (and urban) parts of this country. I remain concerned, however, that there is a pervasive system of food apartheid in the way our Farmer’s Markets are allowed to run. I can’t imagine a single organic, or other, farmer who hasn’t benefitted from government grants and other financially beneficial programs, yet the majority of Farmer’s Markets are not willing to accept food stamps.
    The list of excuses is too long to repeat, the reasons absurd.

    I am aware of the added administrative and personnel costs of participating in the SNAP program for Farmer’s Markets, but the government makes grants and training available to ensure that even poor people like me can enjoy the improved health effects of buying fresh and local. These benefits should extend beyond the country club set.

    I have recently moved to Stonington, CT, in the Eastern part of the State, which is experiencing an agricultural renaissance. In town, there is a marvelous inddoor (year-round) Farmer’s Market. Guess what? SNAP isn’t offered at the Market. After looking around I quickly realized I could not afford most of the goods without being able to use my Food Stamps, Once outside, again, I could not help but notice the number of luxury vehicles parked along the curb, such as Mercedes station wagons. Why should this apartheid be allowed to exist when it is so plainly unjust? It specifically cuts the poor off from a vital source of year-round nutritious agricultural resources.

    The solution is obvious:Require Farmer’s Markets by law to offer SNAP and revoke the license of any that refuse to comply. When the farmers have already benefitted from the USDA, that benefit should be extended to SNAP recipients.

    I for one am not the least bit timid about making this demand, and as a disabled person with systemic lupus, it only makes sense to translate our overwhelming need into policy action.

    Thank you for your attention.

    Ms. Westerly A. Donohue

  3. Leticia Andrews-Cox says:

    In our company’s Wellness Program we are learning about healthy foods and its’ nutritional value from our Eat Healthy Incentive Program. This program offers vegetables like salsify which helps to lower the blood sugar levels. We are also looking at fiddle head ferns this week and the options of recipes out in the world for this type of healthy vegetable. However, I was wondering why I do not hear about these from local farmers markets? Is this because some of the vegetables like fiddle heads and salsify are not locally grown? More education on vegetables and fruits would be beneficial to the American public. I do not think that it should be on just the schools or companies. I think Ms. Obama has done wonders with her platform and should be highly commended for getting young people involved in learning more about staying healthy. She has done so much, however, the recognition is slow in coming from American parents and teachers. I have not seen this much effort done on any other first lady’s tenure to help promote fruits and veggies for our youth. Even the effort of having the White House chef prepare items from the garden was just amazing to me. Leadership starts at the top, and she was a great mentor and champion for wellness and diversity.

Leave a Reply