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

Posts tagged: Economic Growth

How Immigration Reform Will Benefit Farmers and Rural Communities

Cross posted from the White House Blog:

Today, the White House released a new report detailing the important benefits provided by the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill for the domestic agriculture sector, its workforce, and rural American communities. As the report states, in recent years, the agriculture sector has seen strong growth, with farm income and agriculture exports both reaching historic highs. But there’s more work to do, and currently the agriculture industry is hampered by a broken immigration system that fails to support a predictable and stable workforce. Among all economic sectors, the U.S. agriculture sector is particularly reliant on foreign-born workers. Agricultural producers cite difficulty in locating qualified available authorized workers—both foreign and domestic—as one reason for the high rate of undocumented labor. Moreover, there continues to be insufficient U.S. workers to fill labor needs: of those crop workers surveyed between 2007 and 2009, 71 percent were foreign born.

As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “If we’re truly committed to strengthening our middle class and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to make it into the middle class, we’ve got to fix the system. We have to bring this shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable — businesses for who they hire, and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law. That’s common sense. And that’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform.” Read more »

A Virtual Roundtable to Bring the StrikeForce Initiative to New Communities

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) StrikeForce Initiative Director Max Finberg listen to StrikeForce Initiative Beneficiary Colorado farmer Carol Baker Olguin discuss the benefits she and her family received through the USDA StrikeForce program during a Google+ Hangout at USDA in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Jun. 17, 2013.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) StrikeForce Initiative Director Max Finberg listen to StrikeForce Initiative Beneficiary Colorado farmer Carol Baker Olguin discuss the benefits she and her family received through the USDA StrikeForce program during a Google+ Hangout at USDA in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Jun. 17, 2013.

Every day, USDA provides assistance to help grow American agriculture and increase opportunities for rural communities. Unfortunately, 90 percent of America’s persistent poverty counties are in rural America.

Earlier this year, we launched the StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity, which targets rural areas of persistent poverty where USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness of programs, target resources and leverage partnerships to promote economic development and job creation.  The initiative is now operating in sixteen states in the Southeast, Southwest, Great Plains and Alaska. As I travel the country, I am heartened to learn of the impact StrikeForce programs have had in these communities and hear stories from the people who have benefitted. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: A Food Farm and Jobs Bill to Grow Local and Regional Markets

This week, the U.S. Senate acted in bipartisan spirit to approve the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act – a balanced, comprehensive bill that will drive continued growth in rural America.  The House of Representatives now has another important opportunity to stand with rural America and pass their version of a bill.

People often call this the Farm Bill – but it’s much more than that. This is a conservation bill. It’s a trade promotion bill. It’s an innovation bill. It’s a jobs bill.

And it’s a bill that will help continue a tremendous increase in markets for locally-grown foods. This includes creating more farmers markets, building additional regional food hubs and strengthening farm-to-institution programs. Read more »

Open Data for Agriculture Meeting Focuses on Global Food Security

Later this month, Secretary Vilsack will lead the U.S. Delegation to the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture held in Washington, DC. The conference will bring together innovators from all over the world to discuss the importance of open agricultural data to increased food security across the globe, as well as in opening doors for public/private partnerships and economic growth.   Below, Marshall Matz, former Counsel to the Senate Agriculture Committee and founder of Friends of the World Food Program details some of the goals of this year’s conference and his vision for ag data’s role in a more food secure world. Read more »

Giving Rural America More Tools to Grow and Create Jobs

Cross-posted from the White House blog.

Today, the President announced several important new initiatives to continue strengthening the rural economy and to create jobs in rural areas.

As part of the White House Rural Council’s efforts to improve federal government coordination on rural economic development, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have been focused on rural small business growth. And for good reason: Half the people who work in America either own or work for a small business, and two out of three new private sector jobs are created by small businesses. Read more »

Big Sky – Big Opportunities

This morning I had the opportunity to start my day in Big Sky Country where I was invited by Senator Jon Tester to participate in the Small Business Opportunity Workshop hosted at Montana State University.

We have a full house here having reached capacity at 150 attendees with another 80 RSVPs still arriving.  Clearly the word is out on our workshop and the farmers and ranchers of Montana are eager to hear about job creation and economic development opportunities here in the state. Read more »