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At USDA, we know that there is no limit to the economic potential of rural America. Over the past six years, we have worked to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in eleven American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials.

Helping Farmers and Ranchers Grow and Thrive

  • Responded immediately to producers affected by disaster across the country, ranging from record storms and flooding, tornadoes, droughts and blizzards to help keep American agriculture profitable and keep farmers on the farm.
    1. While it took over one year after the 2008 Farm Bill was passed, disaster assistance programs were ready to go in under ten weeks following the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill-80 percent faster than in 2008. As of mid-February 2015, more than 560,000 payments were issued to producers totaling nearly $4.9 billion.
    2. Between 2009 and 2014, the Federal crop insurance program paid out more than $55 billion in indemnities so that farmers nationwide can continue to produce after suffering losses due to natural causes.
    3. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized retroactive additional NAP assistance for losses to 2012 fruit crops grown on trees and bushes in counties that had Secretarial disaster designations for frost or freeze for the 2012 crop year. As of January 2015, 635 payments totaling over $13.3 million have been issued.
  • Expanded access to credit to help farm and ranch businesses grow and thrive.
    1. Provided more than 209,512 ownership and operating loans totaling $27.2 billion to eligible farmers and ranchers since 2009. At the same time, more than 313,148 marketing assistance commodity loans totaling more than $34 billion have provided short-term interim credit for farmers and ranchers.
    2. Issued 87,117 loan deficiency payments totaling over $311 million to eligible producers when the market price for specific commodities fell below its respective county loan rate.
    3. Provided financing for on-farm storage for over 899 million bushels of eligible commodities and disbursed over $2 billion to 34,000 eligible producers through the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) Program since 2000.
    4. The microloan program is an important access point to credit for beginning farmers and ranchers. Since the program's inception in January 2013, USDA has issued 10,000 microloans. 70 percent of these loans have gone to beginning farmers.
  • Strengthened the farm safety net by allowing farmers to exclude yields in exceptionally bad years (such as a year in which a natural disaster or other extreme weather occurred) from their production history when calculating yields used to establish their crop insurance coverage. By excluding unusually bad years, farmers will not have to worry that a natural disaster will reduce their amount of insurance for years to come.
  • Offered new crop insurance tools beginning in the 2015 crop year to help protect producers from yield, revenue and market volatility. The Supplemental Coverage Option and Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX), as required by the Farm Bill, will help protect farmers from naturally occurring events that cause shallow losses.
  • Provided interim payments to cotton producers through the Cotton Transition Assistance Program (CTAP), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, until the Stacked Income Protection Plan, a new insurance product created by the legislation, becomes available. As of January, over $539 million in funding was approved to more than 184,000 cotton producers.
  • Awarded $3 million to universities to develop online tools, which started going live in late summer 2014, to help producers determine how best to protect their farm business through program options like Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) for crop insurance, Margin Protection Program (MPP) for dairy, and Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).
  • Enrolled 23,000 dairies-more than half of all dairy farms in America-in the new Margin Protection Program, established in the 2014 Farm Bill, which offers dairy producers a range of choices of protection that are best suited for their operation.
  • Expanded Federal crop insurance program coverage for farmers and specialty crops by improving price coverage and eliminating the premium surcharge for organic producers.

Streamlining Assistance and Saving Taxpayer Dollars

  • Created a consistent, simple and flexible policy for cover crops across USDA agencies that ensures today's farmers can benefit from sound erosion control and the farm safety net.
  • Established 15 common dates for farmers and ranchers to report acreage and crop data, reducing burdensome paperwork on producers and costs to USDA. There had previously been more than 70 reporting dates.

Boosting Competiveness through Better Research and Improved Technology

  • Conducted research on drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant, and saline-resistant crops that will enhance the competitiveness of American farmers in global trade.
  • Established a new Agricultural and Food Research Initiative Water for Agriculture challenge area to address critical water issues such as drought, excess soil moisture, flooding, and water quality in an agricultural context. USDA will make up to $30 million available over the next five years.
  • Conducted research that is helping to improve the technology associated with irrigation equipment to reduce spills and help manage limited water resources more effectively. By developing new software and more robust forecasting models, USDA research will help producers better manage water resources in the future.