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Secretary's Column: A New Year For Agriculture

Posted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in USDA Results
Feb 21, 2017

As we enjoy the holiday season, it is a great time to celebrate all that American agriculture has accomplished, and to look ahead to a productive new year.

Our farmers, ranchers and growers make incredible contributions each day to the health and strength of this country.  Thanks to their productivity, Americans spend – on average – less than 10 cents out of every dollar they earn on food.  This is far less than families around the world.  It gives us the freedom and the flexibility to spend on our families and invest in our businesses.

We should also celebrate Agriculture as a bright spot in today’s economy.  Farm family household income is on the rise, and farm sector earnings and farm exports to other nations both reached new records in 2011.  Nationwide, agriculture is tied to 1 in 12 jobs.

USDA is part of this story.  In 2011, we helped hundreds of thousands of farmers affected by natural disasters.  We began implementation of trade deals that will mean billions in new exports for American agriculture.  We provided credit to farmers who needed it and helped producers combat pests and disease.

Next year, we will continue to help agriculture confront the evolving challenges of the 21st century: supporting farmers and ranchers with a strong safety net; opening new markets for their products at home and abroad; empowering conservation and stewardship; and encouraging sustainable, productive, profitable operations through science and streamlined assistance.

At the same time, we want to help the next generation of Americans get their start in farming and ranching so they can continue the traditions that have served this nation so well: supplying us with a safe, affordable food supply and generating jobs and economic growth in the countryside.

I am very proud of what America’s farmers, ranchers and growers have accomplished this year.  And I look forward to next year, when USDA will continue to promote and partner with American agriculture to ensure thriving operations that make for a robust ag economy, healthy farm families and a stronger nation.

Category/Topic: USDA Results

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Fredericka Hart
Dec 30, 2011

I applaud all of the advancements you have made for the humans in our farming and ranching communities. They deserve living the best after all of their hard work. But you have to stop Factory Farming and protect the integrity of the animals who give their lives so we can eat. They are SO abused in so many places and it is not necessary. Downed animals kicked and left to die, fowl living with broken legs and mangled feet, day old calves torn from their dairy mothers and left to starve. Please look at all aspects of farming - not just human. Thank you.

Tim Gieseke
Dec 30, 2011

Thanks for your positive message and I am often proud of American farmers. I think the one point that may be counterintuitive is that Americans only spend 10 cents for each dollar earned. That sounds good, unless we determine what it costs us all. Using the logic that cheaper is better, would it be best if food was free? If it were, we would waste even more than the 25% we do today, eateries could provide unnecessary larger portions and we would collectively consume and waste more, economies of scale at all food production levels will prevail at the cost of economies of scope, and the market economy would continue to recognize and capture the food subsidies and move foodstuffs to lower market values. We are a blessed peoples, but we are human, and we humans cannot handle how to consume items that are sold below the cost of producing them. We have built a system that requires us to chase our tail a little faster each year and 1/3 of us are having a real hard time just to turn around. Let 2012 be the year we move from linear thinking to systems thinking. A good start is "Thinking in Systems: A primer" by D. Meadows. A short read for long-term thinking.
Best in 2012
Tim Gieseke

Heated Mom of 2
Jan 05, 2012

Nice to see you getting praise.While the USDA goes against there own research on vegetables like Corn you Approve for people I use Agent Orange.A chemical used in the Vietnam war by the US military to kill everything above soil,acres at a time.Im not seeing this Posted anywhere in this or Secretary Valsick's Page.The historical research shows the high birth defect rates of babies on/around these crops.Such as fingers webbed together,respitory problems and more.When tomatoes and spinach were recalled for serious salmonella poisining and such Americans went without.I believe we would rather go without Cheeto's if it was between that or a killing chemical saturated Vegatable.I hope you have problems sleeping at night.I will work hard to inform the American people of how you are in fact NOT protecting our people but maybe your pocket books because it's not adding up any other way I can think of