The Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) advises the Secretary on the economic implications of policies and programs affecting the U.S. food and fiber system and rural areas. OCE also coordinates cross-cutting issues within USDA, such as Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Environmental Markets. It also produces or contributes to a number of data products, such as weather and crop reports, that underpin USDA’s sustainable development efforts.
Climate Change Program Office functions as the Department-wide coordinator of agriculture, rural and forestry-related global change program and policy issues facing USDA. It serves as USDA's focal point for climate change issues and is responsible for coordinating activities with other Federal agencies, interacting with the legislative branch on climate change issues affecting agriculture and forestry, and representing USDA on U.S. delegations to international climate change discussions.
Office of Environmental Markets supports the Secretary in the development of emerging markets for carbon sequestration, water quality, wetlands, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services. Environmental markets have the potential to become a new economic driver for rural America, supporting a bold, creative future for America's farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.
Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin (WWCB) is jointly prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the USDA. The WWCB provides a vital source of information on weather, climate and agricultural developments worldwide, along with detailed charts and tables of agrometeorological information. Other weather-related publications coordinated by the Office of the Chief Economist include weekly and monthly forecasts and crop highlights, and a drought monitor covering all of North America.
World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report provides USDA's comprehensive forecasts of supply and demand for major U.S. and global crops and U.S. livestock. The report gathers information from a number of statistical reports published by USDA and other government agencies, and provides a framework for additional USDA reports.
Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS) helps to keep America's farmers and ranchers in business as they face the uncertainties of weather and markets. FFAS delivers commodity, credit, conservation, disaster, and emergency assistance programs that help improve the stability and strength of the agricultural economy. The three agencies within the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services mission area each maintain a number of programs supporting sustainable agricultural development.
Farm Service Agency (FSA) implements agricultural policy, administers credit and loan programs, and manages conservation, commodity, disaster and farm marketing programs through a national network of offices. FSA programs of particular relevance to sustainable agricultural development include:
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners, providing annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. CRP protects millions of acres of American topsoil from erosion and is designed to safeguard the Nation's natural resources. By reducing water runoff and sedimentation, CRP protects groundwater and helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams. Acreage enrolled in the CRP is planted to resource-conserving vegetative covers, making the program a major contributor to increased wildlife populations in many parts of the country.
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a voluntary land retirement program that helps agricultural producers protect environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water. The program is a partnership among producers; tribal, state, and federal governments; and, in some cases, private groups. By combining CRP resources with state, tribal, and private programs, CREP provides farmers and ranchers with a sound financial package for conserving and enhancing the natural resources of farms. CREP addresses high-priority conservation issues of both local and national significance, such as impacts to water supplies, loss of critical habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife species, soil erosion, and reduced habitat for fish populations such as salmon.
Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) works to improve foreign market access for U.S. products. It leads USDA’s efforts to help developing countries improve their agricultural systems and build their trade capacity. FAS also partners with the U.S. Agency for International Development to administer U.S. food aid programs. FAS’s non-emergency food aid programs help meet recipients’ nutritional needs and also support agricultural development and education. A number of FSA programs support the goal of sustainable development, including:
Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program is designed to increase the agricultural research capacity of developing countries, strengthening the human and institutional capital base needed to promote agricultural sector innovation, food security and sustainable development. It provides research and training opportunities to early- and mid-career agricultural researchers and policymakers from developing and middle-income countries. USDA partners with U.S. land-grant universities, international research centers, and other institutions to provide up to 12 weeks of U.S.-based training each year.
Scientific Cooperation Research Program (SCRP): Addressing Challenges Faced by Smallholders in Emerging Economies is a grant program with the objective to reduce global poverty and hunger by supporting applied scientific research, extension, or education projects that aim to address challenges faced by smallholder farmers in emerging economies.
Risk Management Agency (RMA) helps to ensure that farmers have the financial tools necessary to manage their agricultural risks. RMA’s mission is to promote, support, and regulate sound risk management solutions to preserve and strengthen the economic stability of America’s agricultural producers. As part of this mission, RMA operates and manages the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC).
The two agencies in the Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services mission area work to end hunger and improve health in the United States. Many of their programs support sustainable consumption objectives.
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) works to improve the health and well-being of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers. CNPP promotes the goal of sustainable consumption with a number of programs, including:
MyPlate is part of a larger communications initiative based on 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help consumers make better food choices. This graphic illustrates the five food groups using a familiar mealtime visual, a place setting. It prompts Americans to avoid oversized portions and make fruits and vegetables half their plate.
Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides children and needy families with better access to food and a more healthful diet through its food assistance programs and comprehensive nutrition education efforts. FNS administers programs for school meals, disaster relief, seniors, low-income persons, and women, infants and children. FNS provides services to nearly one in five people in the United States. FNS has elevated nutrition and nutrition education to a top priority in all of its programs. In addition to providing access to nutritious food, FNS also works to empower program participants with knowledge of the link between diet and health. FNS supports the goal of sustainable consumption with a number of programs, including:
Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is associated with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The FMNP was established to provide fresh, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables to WIC participants, and to expand the use of and sales at farmers’ markets.
Farm-to-School Program (FSP) oversees the Farm-to-School program with the objectives of bringing more locally sourced, fresh fruits and vegetables into school cafeterias; and procuring locally sourced, minimally processed main meal items so that the entire school meal is representative of regional. In addition to procurement activities, food, agriculture and nutrition-based educational efforts that span a host of hands-on experiential activities, such as school gardens, field trips to local farms, and cooking classes, are also included in the concept of farm to school.
The Food Safety mission area ensures that the Nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and properly labeled and packaged. This mission area also plays a key role in the President's Food Safety Working Group, a coordinated government-wide initiative to ensure a safe food supply for the American people for the 21st century.
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
FSIS enhances public health and well-being by protecting the public from foodborne illness and ensuring that the nation's meat, poultry and egg products are safe, wholesome, and correctly packaged. FSIS guidelines and outreach on proper food storage and food safety, such as the “Be Food Safe” program, help inform work on post-harvest losses and food waste, an important topic for sustainable consumption and production.
Marketing and Regulatory Programs facilitates domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products and ensures the health and care of animals and plants. MRP agencies are active participants in setting national and international standards.
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)
AMS administers programs that facilitate the efficient, fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products, including food, fiber, and specialty crops, including:
The National Organic Program (NOP) requires that agricultural products labeled as organic originate from farms or handling operations certified by a State or private entity that has been accredited by USDA. The regulations prohibit the use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge in organic production and handling. As a general rule, all natural (non-synthetic) substances are allowed in organic production and all synthetic substances are prohibited. The NOP also provides rules for labeling of organic products.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
"Protecting American Agriculture" is the basic charge of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS provides leadership in ensuring the health and care of animals and plants. The agency supports the goal of sustainable agriculture through a number of programs, including:
Animal Welfare, as covered under the Animal Welfare and Horse Protection Acts, is managed by APHIS. APHIS provides leadership for determining standards of humane care and treatment of animals and then implements those standards and achieves compliance through inspection, education, cooperative efforts, and enforcement.
Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA)
GIPSA facilitates the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds, and related agricultural products, and promotes fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture.
Natural Resources and Environment ensures the health of the land through sustainable management. Its agencies work to prevent damage to natural resources and the environment, restore the resource base, and promote good land management.
Forest Service (FS)
FS sustains the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. A number of Forest Service programs support the goal of sustainable development, including:
The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLR) aims to encourage collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forested landscapes, across public and private lands. It seeks to encourage collaborative solutions on restoration through landscape scale operations and partnerships with landowners on projects that reduce wildfire risk, enhance fish and wildlife habitats, and maintain and improve water quality. The 2012 report, “Increasing the Pace of Restoration and Job Creation on our National Forests,” outlines a strategy and series of actions to accelerate forest restoration and job growth in rural America.
Urban & Community Forestry (UCF) program provides technical and financial assistance to states, local government units, and community partners to plant, protect, and sustain community trees and forests for 100 million acres of urban forests. In 2011, the UCF program provided assistance to 7,171 communities - home to over 194 million people in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U. S. Territories and affiliated Pacific Island nations. The FS also convened a high profile national task force to provide recommendations regarding the role of urban natural resources in sustaining cities and communities, resulting in the “Vibrant Cities and Urban Forests” National Report. See also: http://www.fs.fed.us/ucf/
i-Tree is a FS-developed software that enables local practitioners to quantify the benefits and environmental services that trees provide to cities, using the best available science.
Watershed Condition Framework (WCF) establishes a new, consistent, comparable, and credible process for improving the health of watersheds and the quality of water flowing from national forests and grasslands. A map-viewer website shows the priority watersheds, explains why the watershed was selected, provides downloadable Watershed Restoration Action Plans and information about other important planning items, including estimated costs and restoration partners.
Forests to Faucets project uses GIS to model and map the continental United States land areas most important to surface drinking water, the role forests play in protecting these areas, and the extent to which these forests are threatened by development, insects and disease, and wildland fire.
National Agroforestry Center (NAC) is a joint venture of two USDA agencies—the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service—that exists to accelerate the application of agroforestry practices (e.g., alley cropping, forest farming, riparian forest buffers, silvopasture, windbreaks) through a network of partners. Center personnel conduct research, develop technologies and tools, coordinate demonstrations and training, and provide information to promote agroforestry as a means to enhance productivity, profitability, and environmental stewardship. The Center provides educational assistance on agroforestry techniques and tools to extension agents, state and federal government personnel, and other natural resource professionals who work directly with farmers, ranchers, woodland owners, Tribes, and communities.
Rangelands Management program focuses on the natural resources on range landscapes of the U.S., serving a multitude of needs that include: (1) the sustainable use of land for grazing and foraging activities; (2) the maintenance and restoration of plant communities and animal wildlife habitat; and (3) and the improvement of watershed condition and functions. Other major emphases include: invasive species management; the use of native plant materials; botany and pollination; and vegetation ecology issues at multiple scales.
State and Private Forestry (S&PF) organization of the FS reaches across the boundaries of National Forests to States, Tribes, communities and non-industrial private landowners. S&PF is the federal leader in providing technical and financial assistance to landowners and resource managers to help sustain the Nation’s forests and protect communities and the environment from wildland fires.
Research and Development (R&D) of the USFS works at the forefront of science to improve the health and use of our Nation's forests and grasslands. Today, some 500-plus Forest Service researchers work in a range of biological, physical, and social science fields to promote sustainable management of the Nation's diverse forests and rangelands. Their research covers programs in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and commonwealths. The information and technology produced through basic and applied science programs is available for its benefit and use.
Federal Subsistence Management Program is a multi-agency effort to provide the opportunity for a subsistence way of life by rural Alaskans on federal public lands and waters while maintaining healthy populations of fish and wildlife. The USFS manages over 22 million acres of public lands and waters in Alaska to provide the opportunity for a subsistence way of life by rural Alaskans.
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
NRCS provides leadership in a partnership effort to help people conserve, maintain and improve our natural resources and environment. NRCS runs a wide variety of programs supporting sustainable agricultural development, including:
The Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) program provides technical assistance supported by science-based technology and tools to help people conserve, maintain, and improve their natural resources.
The Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) is a voluntary conservation initiative that enables the use of certain conservation programs along with resources of eligible partners to provide financial and technical assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands. Under CCPI, NRCS enters into partnership agreements with eligible entities that want to enhance conservation outcomes on agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands. CCPI is composed of three programs: 1) the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which provides cost-sharing and incentive payments for conservation practices on working farm lands; 2) the Conservation Stewardship Program, which encourages producers on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by undertaking additional conservation activities and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities; and 3) the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, for the development and improvement of wildlife habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land, and Indian land.
The purpose of the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program is to undertake emergency measures, including the purchase of flood plain easements, for runoff retardation and soil erosion prevention to safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion on any watershed whenever fire, flood or any other natural occurrence is causing or has caused a sudden impairment of the watershed.
The Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) is a voluntary conservation initiative that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to implement agricultural water enhancement activities on agricultural land to conserve surface and ground water and improve water quality. As part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), AWEP operates through program contracts with producers to plan and implement conservation practices in project areas established through partnership agreements.
USDA provides Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to fund the application and demonstration of innovative technologies and approaches to conservation issues. Many of the awards made through the program have greenhouse gas benefits. For example, farm-level wind and solar power projects reduce CO 2 emissions, and new technologies for livestock manure management and fertilizer application reduce methane and N 2 O emissions.
The Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) provides USDA with unprecedented capacity for natural resource assessment and analysis—integrating for the first time investments such as the National Resources Inventory (NRI), geospatial databases, conservation practice implementation data, and partner monitoring data—with powerful and improved analytical models and methods. CEAP has created a large partnership that has energized the conservation and research communities. Through the partnership, CEAP has leveraged the funding and expertise of more than 60 partners including Federal and State agencies, universities, and non-profit organizations. The project embodies a model of shared leadership with key partners, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and Farm Service Agency among many others.
The Research, Education, and Economics mission area is dedicated to the creation of a safe, sustainable, competitive U.S. food and fiber system, as well as strong communities, families, and youth through integrated research, analysis, and education.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
ARS is USDA's principal in-house research agency. ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority ARS has approximately 900 research projects spread over 100 locations across the country and at 4 overseas laboratories. ARS research programs and activities related to sustainable agricultural development include:
Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems supports researchers at 70 locations throughout the United States to develop the technologies and strategies needed to help farmers, ranchers, and other managers become effective stewards of the diverse agricultural ecosystems across the Nation. Programs include the Water Availability & Watershed Management; Climate Change, Soils and Emissions; Pasture, Forage & Rangeland Systems; Agricultural & Industrial Byproducts; Agricultural System Competitiveness & Sustainability; Bioenergy, Plant, Microbial & Insect Germplasm Conservation & Development
The goal of ARS’s Utilization of Manure and Other Agricultural and Industrial Byproducts National Program is to effectively and safely manage and use manure and other agricultural and industrial byproducts in ways that maximize their potential benefits while protecting the environment and human and animal health.
Agricultural System Competitiveness and Sustainability research supports problem-solving research that helps producers and other users develop integrated solutions to solve their challenges related to agricultural system productivity, profitability, energy efficiency, and natural resource stewardship.
National Plant Germplasm System maintains 484,000 samples of 12,482 plant species (as of December 2007). The collection includes staple food and feed crops, horticultural crops, fruit and nut crops, industrial crops, ornamental crops, and forest tree crops. The collection is continually growing through acquisition of plant germplasm (over 9,000 samples in 2006, 2,000 from non-U.S. sources) through international and domestic exchanges, and supporting international and domestic plant explorations. Samples are distributed free of charge and without restrictions each year to scientists and breeders, with an average over the past five years of 44,000 samples per year going to facilities in 166 countries.
National Genetic Resources Program's (NGRP) mission is to acquire, characterize, preserve, document, and distribute to scientists, germplasm of all lifeforms important for food and agricultural production including: food processing (e.g. cheese making), alternate energy, and biocontrol agents.
Crop Production Research Program’s mission is to develop and transfer sound, science-based information and technologies for productive and profitable food, fiber, and floral/ornamental crop production systems that meet consumer demands for high quality, affordable products, grower needs for a stable income and competitiveness in the global marketplace, worker needs for a safe working environment, and the public’s desire for maintaining or improving environmental quality.
Economic Research Service (ERS)
ERS is USDA's principal social science research agency. Each year, ERS communicates research results and socioeconomic indicators via briefings, analyses for policymakers and their staffs, market analysis updates, and major reports. Recent reports related to sustainable agricultural development include:
Policy, Technology, and Efficiency of Brazilian Agriculture (ERR-137, July 09, 2012) The Brazilian agricultural sector has been transformed from a traditional system of production with low use of modern technologies to a world agricultural leader. That transformation occurred as the country moved away from import-substitution policies—which nurtured domestic industrial development at the expense of agriculture—toward market-oriented policy reforms. This report presents the ﬁndings of a study that focuses on the effect of Brazil’s science and technology investments and other public policies on farm production. The ﬁndings indicate that agricultural research beneﬁts have been most rapidly adopted by the most efﬁcient farms, widening the productivity gap between these farms and average farms. That gap, however, has been narrowed through other public policies, such as rural credit and infrastructure investments, that favor average producers.
Agricultural Adaptation to a Changing Climate: Economic and Environmental Implications Vary by U.S. Region (ERR-136, July 06, 2012) Global climate models predict increases over time in average temperature worldwide, with significant impacts on local patterns of temperature and precipitation. The extent to which such changes present a risk to food supplies, farmer livelihoods, and rural communities depends in part on the direction, magnitude, and rate of such changes, but equally importantly on the ability of the agricultural sector to adapt to changing patterns of yield and productivity, production cost, and resource availability. Study findings suggest that, while impacts are highly sensitive to uncertain climate projections, farmers have considerable flexibility to adapt to changes in local weather, resource conditions, and price signals by adjusting crops, rotations, and production practices. Such adaptation, using existing crop production technologies, can partially mitigate the impacts of climate change on national agricultural markets. Adaptive redistribution of production, however, may have significant implications for both regional land use and environmental quality.
Research Investments and Market Structure in the Food Processing, Agricultural Input, and Biofuel Industries Worldwide (ERR-130, December 30, 2011) Meeting growing global demand for food, fiber, and biofuel requires robust investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) from both public and private sectors. This study examines global R&D spending by private industry in seven agricultural input sectors, food manufacturing, and biofuel and describes the changing structure of these industries. In 2007 (the latest year for which comprehensive estimates are available), the private sector spent $19.7 billion on food and agricultural research (56 percent in food manufacturing and 44 percent in agricultural input sectors) and accounted for about half of total public and private spending on food and agricultural R&D in high-income countries. In R&D related to biofuel, annual private-sector investments are estimated to have reached $1.47 billion worldwide by 2009. Incentives to invest in R&D are influenced by market structure and other factors. Agricultural input industries have undergone significant structural change over the past two decades, with industry concentration on the rise. A relatively small number of large, multinational firms with global R&D and marketing networks account for most R&D in each input industry. Rising market concentration has not generally been associated with increased R&D investment as a percentage of industry sales.
National Agricultural Library (NAL)
NAL ensures and enhances access to agricultural information for a better quality of life. A number of NAL initiatives target sustainable development, including:
USDA Life Cycle Assessment Digital Commons: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a widely used tool that assesses potential environmental impacts for a given product, process, or activity throughout its entire life span. A complete LCA assessment provides a holistic, comprehensive assessment of a product’s impacts, from those associated with the inputs used in its production through to those arising from its consumption and disposal. Governments, industries and international organizations increasingly recognize the usefulness of LCA in analysing tradeoffs to improve resource efficiency, conservation, and the greening of the economy. The USDA LCA Digital Commons is an open-access, comprehensive inventory of peer-reviewed, standard formatted U.S. LCA data. It is USDA’s contribution to the collection, organization, management, dissemination, and preservation of LCA data for current and future public and private decision-making and research. EPA and DOE have supplied data in support of this effort.
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) specializes in identifying resources about sustainable food systems and practices in support of USDA's effort to ensure a sustainable future for agriculture and farmers worldwide.
National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC) website serves as a reference gateway to information, organizations, and services about invasive species.
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
NASS serves the basic agricultural and rural data needs of the country by providing objective, important and accurate statistical information and services to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and public officials. This data is vital to monitoring the ever-changing agricultural sector and carrying out farm policy. It is also vital for evaluating sustainable agricultural development.
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
NIFA's unique mission is to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. A number of NIFA programs and activities are particularly targeted to sustainable agricultural development, including:
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) funds research, education, and extension grants and integrated research, extension, and education that address key problems of National, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of agriculture, including farm efficiency and profitability, ranching, renewable energy, forestry (both urban and agroforestry), aquaculture, rural communities and entrepreneurship, human nutrition, food safety, biotechnology, and conventional breeding. Grants include education and extension that deliver science-based knowledge to people, allowing them to make informed practical decisions.
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program supports research, education and professional development on sustainable agriculture, primarily through competitive grants that are offered through four regions under the direction of councils that include farmers and ranchers along with representatives from universities, government, agribusiness and nonprofit organizations. SARE’s national outreach office publishes practical how-to books, bulletins and web resources for farmers, ranchers and educators. SARE supports the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, ATTRA.
Land-Grant University (LGU) System is a vast network of thousands of scientists, educators, and extension staff and volunteers, who carry out the USDA programs throughout the United States, its territories, and beyond. There are one or more LGU institutions in each U.S. state and territory and in the District of Columbia.
Cooperative Extension System (CES) is administered through an extensive network of Land-Grant administered state, regional, and county extension offices in every U.S. state and territory. With 2,900 field offices, the CES responds to public inquiries and conducts informal, noncredit workshops and other educational events.
eXtension by the Cooperative Extension System is an internet-based educational environment that provides the most current, objective research-based information from the academic research institutions. eXtension offers information on more than 65 communities of practice including: organic agriculture, community development, goats, niche meat processing, livestock and poultry, plant breeding and genomics, climate change, forestry, energy, and a host of commodity-based content areas.
International and Global Engagement supports influential innovations in campus-based, agriculture-related programs that help prepare world class students, faculty, staff, community members and business people for the 21st century. Activities include: Feed the Future Research and Extension, Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA)/USDA MOU Implementation, and Center for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI)/MOU Implementation and many other research, education, and extension programs in partnership with U.S. AID and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.
The Rural Development mission area and agency are committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in all of rural America by providing financial programs to support essential public facilities and services as water and sewer systems, housing, health clinics, emergency service facilities and electric and telephone service. Rural Development promotes economic development by providing loans to businesses through banks and community-managed lending pools, while also assisting communities to participate in community empowerment programs.
RD helps rural areas to develop and grow by offering Federal assistance that improves quality of life. RD targets communities in need and then empowers them with financial and technical resources. RD provides a number of programs relevant to sustainable development, including:
Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities presents a framework to support rural communities across America as they work to strengthen their economies, provide better quality of life to residents, and build on assets such as traditional main streets, agricultural and working lands, and natural resources. In collaboration with RD, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which is composed of the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency, established a Rural Work Group to reinforce these initiatives and ensure that the four agencies’ spending, policies, and programs support rural communities’ efforts to be economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable. The "Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities" report summarizes the Rural Work Group’s findings and creates a framework for the Partnership’s future work with rural communities.