Skip to main content

national pork board

Helping Ag Businesses Reflect on their Accomplishments and Look to the Future

Reflection, celebration, and ambition are hallmarks of entering a new year. We reflect on the challenges we faced, celebrate our accomplishments, and set goals for the future. For businesses, a common goal is finding new ways to satisfy ever-changing consumer demands. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers rely on research and promotion programs to help meet these demands, connecting consumers to their quality products. With a focus on highlighting quality products and building consumer trust, many research and promotion groups embarked on new initiatives and continued to expand on others in 2014.

Success for agricultural businesses often depends on their ability to provide consumers more information. The American Lamb Board accomplishes this by providing locations where lamb fans can enjoy this tasty product. Not only does the Lamb Locator list farmers markets, grocers, butchers and restaurants selling American lamb, it also includes a list of wholesale suppliers. Making this information available to the public helps more and more people enjoy quality lamb products that are produced by American farmers and ranchers.

Hearing First-Hand How Diversity Matters

The men and women who own and operate our country’s farms and ranches are increasingly diverse. In fact, according to USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture, all categories of minority-operated farms increased between 2007 and 2012.  The number of farms operated by Hispanics has increased by 21 percent in just five years.

My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), oversees all 22 industry-funded commodity research and promotion (R&P) programs.  Led by industry board members appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, these programs provide a framework for farmers and businesses to pool resources, set common goals and make collective decisions about how to best develop new markets, strengthen current markets and conduct important research and promotion activities.

#AgStrong Innovation in Rural America

It takes a lot of hard work to make a living out of farming, to build a thriving agricultural business and it takes ingenuity. This is especially true in rural America, where dedicated farmers and ranchers rely on each other and the communities around them to fuel innovation and create opportunity. From nutritional research to competitions that promote sustainability and continued environmental care, ag promotion programs—with oversight from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)—help American farmers make long-term investments that ensure a better future for everyone.

For more than 30 years, California almond growers have pooled their resources under the Almond Board, focusing on research and techniques to make the most of precious water resources.  Efficient water use and irrigation management are vital to the success of California’s Central Valley almond growers, ensuring that consumer demand for almonds can be met sustainably.  State-of-the-art farming and production developments over the past two decades have helped farmers reduce the amount of water they use per pound of almonds grown by 33 percent. Key strategies have included the wide adoption of micro-irrigation as well as advances in soil assessment and monitoring.

Bringing You Food and Fiber to Fit Your Active Lifestyle

If you’ve learned how to cut a mango from a magazine article, read about new fabrics on a website or heard about nutrition research on almonds from a health reporter on TV, chances are one of America’s ag promotion groups made that information possible and available. From the clothes you wear to the food you eat, these groups are leading efforts to research and promote food and fiber that fits your lifestyle.

Keeping #AgStrong

The strength of America’s farmers and ranchers is undeniable. I knew that strength firsthand growing up in a rural community that depended on agriculture. And I see it in so many ways as I meet folks from across the country in my role at USDA—in their work ethic, in their dedication to their crops and animals, and in their commitment to feed their communities and the world. They are all #AgStrong—an old truth in a new format, celebrating the common agricultural roots among farmer and rancher, family business and rural community.

Through these commonalities, many family-owned farms find strength in numbers, in pooling resources and expertise to grow and sustain their family businesses.  For many of them, ag boards—with oversight from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)—are vital to their success, increasing business opportunities and mapping out a long-term future for their industry.

Pooling Resources for Scientific Breakthroughs

American farmers know about planting seeds—both in the ground and in groundbreaking research. While the seeds they plant as individual farmers feed and clothe the rest of us, the seeds they sow collectively through participation in research and promotion (R&P) programs are vitally important, too.

Funded entirely by industry, agricultural R&P programs are a way for producers and businesses across a commodity industry to pool their resources to help market and improve their products. With oversight provided by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), one of the most important seeds these programs sow is the foundational research that paves the way for breakthroughs that once seemed unimaginable.