Cross-posted on the White House Council on Women and Girls blog:
Agriculture touches our lives each and every day—whether actively farming and ranching, conducting research, or shopping at the grocery store—and women leaders play an increasingly pivotal role across the board.
The number of farms operated by women has more than doubled since 1978. Across the country, nearly 300,000 women serve as principal operators on 62.7 million acres of farm and ranchland, accounting for $12.9 billion in farm products in 2012. Countless more women live, work and raise families in rural America. At USDA, we support projects designed to help women in agriculture improve production, develop good business and risk management practices and transfer knowledge to other women agricultural leaders. Read more »
Rural America faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to combating poverty in our towns and communities. Too often, rural people and places are hard to reach or otherwise underserved—but not forgotten.
I believe that USDA and its partners have the tools and the wherewithal to expand opportunity and better serve those living in poverty, but it is imperative that these resources reach the areas where they are needed most.
That is why USDA has undertaken a broad commitment to rally available tools and technical assistance through our StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative. Read more »
USDA staff members meet with farmers and ranchers to talk about available assistance in South Carolina.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps farmers and ranchers use conservation to help the environment while improving agricultural operations. But not everyone knows about the variety of programs and services offered through USDA agencies.
USDA recently launched an effort to ensure the department is reaching landowners and rural citizens of different backgrounds. Through USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity, USDA is intensifying outreach efforts in places with persistent poverty. For example, NRCS’ goal is to reach landowners with farms and ranches of all types and sizes.
Sixteen states, including South Carolina, identified StrikeForce counties, where more than 20 percent of the population has been considered persistently impoverished for the past three decades. Read more »
This week, the White House released a new report showing the critical need for Congressional passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. This comprehensive report highlights how the thriving business of agriculture is a cornerstone of America’s economy, creating jobs and boosting opportunity.
Agricultural production and its related sectors contributed $743 billion to U.S. GDP in 2011, accounting for nearly 5 percent of economic output. Today about one out of every 12 jobs in the United States are connected in some way to agriculture.
Meanwhile, driven by the productivity of our farmers and ranchers, agricultural exports reached their highest mark ever in 2013 at more than $140 billion. Due in part to trade promotion programs in the Farm Bill, the five-year period from 2009-2013 is the strongest in history for agricultural exports. Compared to the previous five-year period, the U.S. is exporting an average of four million tons more bulk commodities each year. These exports alone support more than a million jobs. Read more »
Mozambique Minister of Science and Technology Louis Pelembe (left) meets with National Soybean Research Laboratory Director Craig Gundersen and his son, Van, during the World Soybean Research Conference earlier this year. Minister Pelembe participated in the Foreign Agricultural Service Cochran Fellowship Program and has used his training to help address critical food security and develop agricultural policy in Mozambique. (Courtesy photo)
Promoting food security and agricultural development around the world is a key part of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) mission. One way FAS does this is by providing educational opportunities to emerging leaders from developing countries through programs such as the Cochran Fellowship Program. Among the FAS-trained fellows who have gone on to great things is Mozambique’s Minister of Science and Technology Louis Pelembe.
Minister Pelembe was a Cochran fellow in 2003, learning about food processing techniques for soy and other commodities at Texas A&M University. He later continued his training at the University of Illinois National Soybean Research Laboratory and Kansas State University with the support of FAS’s Emerging Markets Program. Today, he’s helping address critical food security and developing agricultural policy in Mozambique. Read more »
There are a wide range of important reasons why rural America needs passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible. One of the most pressing is to grow the rural economy in a way that creates new jobs and reverses the troubling decline in population that we’ve seen recently in America’s small towns.
This week, USDA’s Economic Research Service released its annual report on the economic condition of rural America – the 2013 Rural America at a Glance report. The data in this report underscores the challenges of stagnant job growth and persistent poverty faced by many communities across rural America. Read more »