WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2017 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded the accomplishments made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over the past year. In the first year of the Trump Administration, USDA made breakthroughs in agricultural trade, moved to reduce burdensome regulations, responded to natural disasters, and battled through the worst fire season on record, among other notable achievements.
“As 2017 comes to an end, the hard-working civil servants who make up USDA have a great deal to be proud of,” said Perdue. “Unlike any other federal department, USDA touches the lives of each individual in this country every day. In the wake of hurricanes, forest fires, and everything in between, the dedicated professionals at USDA worked tirelessly to serve the American people. As we look ahead to 2018, USDA will continue our efforts to be the most effective, efficient, and customer focused department in the entire federal government.”
Since being sworn in on April 25th, Secretary Perdue has visited 30 states and six foreign countries, conducting outreach to rural and agricultural stakeholders promoting President Donald Trump’s agenda. During his travels – and through two RV Tours covering over 2,200 miles in the Midwest and northeast – Perdue met with farmers, ranchers, foresters, and many other stakeholders to seek input to help Congress craft the 2018 Farm Bill and solicit feedback for USDA to increase rural prosperity.
Additionally, USDA increased its efforts to attract youth to agriculture, including signing a memoranda of understanding with National FFA and separately with SCORE, an organization of business-oriented mentors. At many of his stops across America, Secretary Perdue interacted with National FFA and 4-H students to encourage the next generation to enter fields of agriculture.
Secretary Perdue undertook a significant reorganization of USDA, including the creation of the first-ever Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, as directed by the 2014 Farm Bill. As part of the reorganization, Perdue implemented a strategic vision focused on modernizing Information Technology, facilities, and support services; streamlining processes; engaging stakeholders; and improving stewardship of resources. Additionally, Perdue established an Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation, solidifying his commitment to improving USDA customer service by bringing together three of the Department’s most customer-facing agencies: Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency.
Secretary Perdue launched a USDA initiative to provide comprehensive and timely support to veterans interested in opportunities in agriculture, agribusiness, and in rural America. USDA wants to ensure veterans looking to return home, or start a new career on a farm or in a rural community have the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. The resources include a website and a USDA-wide AgLearn curriculum to allow all employees to understand the unique opportunities offered to our nation’s veterans.
USDA Agency Accomplishments
USDA is made up of 29 agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees who serve the American people at more than 4,500 locations across the country. While each mission area’s accomplishments may be found by using the links below, notable accomplishments are as follows:
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provided significant support in negotiations that re-opened the market for U.S. beef to be exported to China for the first time in 13 years.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) added information on nearly 140,000 food items to the Branded Food Products Database, which makes it easier to find nutrients contained in manufactured or brand-name foods sold in supermarkets.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) continued its work to ensure the free flow of agricultural trade by keeping U.S. agriculture industries free from pests and diseases. APHIS opened a potential $50 million live animal market in Kyrgyzstan, opened the sugar beet market in China, and reopened the $220 million dried distillers grain market in Vietnam, amongst many others.
Farm Service Agency (FSA), in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, provided special procedures to assist producers in states and territories most severely impacted and dispatched additional staff to the affected areas.
Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) organized trade missions to Egypt, Brazil, and India which generated more than $30 million in projected sales as a part of its ongoing efforts to help U.S. agribusiness expand its global reach.
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funded contracts for historically under served customers, including socially disadvantaged, limited-resource, and veteran farmers and ranchers, exceeding $553 million to treat more than 11.3 million acres of working land.