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USDA Continues to Implement Program Changes to Benefit Farmers

Earlier this week, I was honored to meet with members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters here at USDA headquarters. These women and men, many with decades of broadcasting and farm experience, are among the familiar voices, faces and bylines we hear and see each day through radio, television, newsletters, and social media across America.

The Importance of Farm Broadcasting in Reaching America's 3.2 Million Farmers

Growing up on a small crop and hog farm in Perry County, Illinois, I have memories as a child listening to the radio with my father or uncle to hear the latest agriculture news. As farmers, they relied on and trusted receiving weather, farm, and market updates from the local radio station, WDQN. Some days my father would nod in agreement liking what he heard on the radio and other days my uncle would shake his head and turn the volume down. But the important thing was they always tuned in and listened.

As a child, I never guessed that I would grow up to be on the receiving end of interviews to report the crop, livestock, and agriculture census numbers that we listened for.  Having worked for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) for 30 years, I have had the pleasure to talk with a great number of farm broadcasters. Folks who are dedicated to delivering the information and stories to farmers, ranchers, and rural America.

A Reflection on the State of Agriculture and the Future

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of traveling to Kansas City to address our nation’s farm broadcasters at the 68th Annual National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) meeting to answer questions about key issues affecting our agricultural community.  Since I usually only talk to the broadcasters over the phone, I enjoy coming to NAFB each year to meet with them face-to-face.  This year was particularly special because I was able to share good news regarding the state of our agricultural economy, farm exports as well as information about recent USDA streamlining initiatives that will allow us better assist our nation’s producers.

I was proud to announce that we set a record of $137.4 billion in agricultural exports this past fiscal year—exceeding past highs by over $22.5 billion—to support more than 115 million American jobs.  We were able to set a trade surplus record of $42 billion, which is a testimony to the hard work of our nation’s producers as the backbone of the American economy.