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Directions to a Prosperous Rural America

Posted by Dr. Richard Derksen, Program Coordinator, Office of the Chief Scientist in Research and Science
Dec 16, 2014
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

If you’re like me, the holidays are a time to pack our bags and set off to visit family members and loved ones.  When my family goes on a road trip -- with what seems like half the country doing the same thing -- the driver is always asked helpful questions like, “Do you know where you’re going?” or “Are we there yet?” At USDA, we’re often revisiting the same questions and potential solutions as we develop plans to strengthen the rural economy.

Tackling the problems rural America faces is not unlike a family road trip.  Directions are needed to help steer USDA programs supporting rural America toward our goals:  “Do you know where you’re going?”  As it turns out, the answer to this question is an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

The 2010 “A Roadmap for USDA Science” expressed a vision for delivering the research, tools, and statistical data needed to meet the needs of USDA agencies and the country. The 2014 Research, Education, and Economics (REE) Action Plan further develops the vision outlined in the Roadmap and provides direction for the REE Mission agencies.

In response to the changes rural America has experienced over the last century, the REE Action Plan provides direction for effective research, education, and extension that inform public and private decision-making in support of rural and community development.  One important contribution to sustainable, healthy rural communities is access to timely, reliable data and information that allows rural citizens and entrepreneurs to make informed business and personal decisions.

The REE Action Plan supports expansion of the bioeconomy by supporting development, production, and consumption of renewable energy and biobased products which will help create prosperous rural communities that are self-sustaining, re-populating, and economically thriving.   Another priority is developing strategies to support pollinator health which is critical to agricultural production across the country.

“Are we there yet?”  Impact-driven agricultural science is critical to the future of our country.  Having defined direction for USDA science and implementation of the REE Action Plan ensures that resources are being used to achieve the goals in the most efficient manner. Regular, frequent progress checks will be made within the mission area, and on an agency level, to make sure we’re on track to support rural America.

Hope your travels get you safely to your destination. See you on the roads!

Category/Topic: Research and Science