This week at USDA - Agriculture is one of the brightest spots in our economy, and the American brand of agriculture is surging in popularity worldwide. Trade and market access support good-paying jobs and drives economic growth. A strong rural economy is critical to the overall economic health of the United States.
This week at USDA - Many consumers want to "buy local" and support their local economy with their purchases. When local food marketing opportunities exist for rural producers, they cause ripple effects throughout the rural economy.
This week at USDA - I visited Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, a small city outside of my hometown of Pittsburgh to kick off the first of five Made in Rural America forums designed to help rural small businesses access the information they need to grow through exports.
This week at USDA - USDA and its partners launched a new conservation initiative, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), a program that goes beyond traditional government support for conservation and allows businesses and other for-profit partners to invest in regional conservation projects. RCPP takes conservation off the farm and out of the forest and moves it into the board room.
This week at USDA - Over the past several years, we have seen the spread and occurrence of wildfires increase significantly. Deadly wildfires threaten our homes and communities and turn lives upside down.
This week at USDA - USDA and its partners released the results of the eight annual national survey of honey bee losses. The survey shows good news-fewer honey bee colonies were lost this winter than in previous years. According to survey results, total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 23.2 percent nationwide.
This week at USDA - Farmers, ranchers and foresters have long understood the need to care for our land and water-not only because preserving those resources for our children and their children is the right thing to do, but because they know that our farms and forests are more productive and efficient when they're properly cared for.
This week at USDA, Rural Americans have always had a strong connection to the land. Since 2009 alone, more than 500,000 farmers, ranchers and rural land owners across the country have embarked on record conservation projects with USDA as a partner.
Last week, farmers and ranchers began signing up for disaster assistance programs that were restored by the 2014 Farm Bill. While it took a year to implement disaster relief programs after the last farm bill was passed in 2008, disaster programs were up and running in just 60 days this time around, thanks to hardworking Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees in more than 2,000 offices across the country. These disaster programs will not replace all of the losses farmers and ranchers faced, but it will provide some relief and help ensure that extreme weather won't cause families to lose the farm.
This week at USDA, the 2014 Farm Bill has already set in motion and accomplished so much for our country. With historic support for specialty crop producers across the country, the bill will touch every one of our lives through one of the most basic of human needs: food.