Secretary Vilsack: Why I’m proud of our USDA employees

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USDA employees across the country and around the world do critical work that impacts millions of lives. I am proud of our employees for many reasons, and I want to share just a few of their great accomplishments under the Obama Administration.

  1. Since 2009 the Rural Housing Service has financed 743,309 home loans.
  2. Since 2009 the Rural Housing Service supported improvements to 276 hospital and medical clinics, 166 schools and 401 libraries in rural America.
  3. Since 2009 the Rural Utilities Service completed 176 broadband projects providing new or improved service to 104,471 subscribers, including 5,858 businesses and 647 critical community facilities.
  4. Since 2009 the Rural Utilities Service financed 3,785 water projects providing clean water to thousands of rural residents.
  5. Since 2009 the Rural Business Service awarded 15,727 grants and loans to aid 65,636 businesses expand opportunity and create jobs.
  6. Since 2009 the Rural Business Service authorized 7,586 awards under the Rural Energy for America Program, saving or generating 8,549,590 megawatt hours of energy.
  7. Since 2009 the Food, Nutrition and Consumer Service expanded summer feeding programs to an additional 9,546 sites, bringing the total number of sites to 42,266.
  8. Since 2009 the Food, Nutrition and Consumer Service instituted Electronic Benefit Transfer systems in an additional 3,087 Farmers Markets to allow SNAP beneficiaries greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables while supporting more local and regional food systems.
  9. Since 2009 the Farm Service Agency processed 159,475 loans to farmers and ranchers, with a majority of the loans going to beginning farmers and ranchers, and socially disadvantaged producers.
  10. Since 2009 the Natural Resources Conservation Service entered into 190,822 contracts under Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), providing conservation benefits for more than 108 million acres.
  11. Since 2009 the Farm Service Agency enrolled 286,635 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts, bringing into this conservation effort or retaining 14,131,055 acres.
  12. Since 2009 the Forest Service partnered with state and local interests in 23 projects under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program to improve over 500,000 acres of forests, producing 1.2 million tons of biomass for renewable energy production.
  13. Since 2009 the Forest Service and the brave men and women of the Service have helped fight more than 285,000 forest fires, risking their lives to protect lives and property.
  14. Since 2009 the National Institute of Food and Agriculture supported research projects resulting in 392 patent applications.
  15. Since 2009 the Agricultural Research Service in the area of Genetics, Genomes and Biotechnology alone generated over 3,500 publications, 830 Material Transfer Agreements, and 70 patent applications filed.
  16. Since 2009, the Foreign Agriculture Service helped challenge 751 sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to the export of American agricultural products, helping to spur record exports of American agricultural products.
  17. Since 2009 the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reduced processing time for non-regulated status petitions involving biotechnology by 332 days.
  18. Since 2009 the Agricultural Marketing Service assisted in purchasing $6.8 billion of product, helping to stabilize producer income.
  19. Since 2009 the Food Safety and Inspection Service adopted new Performance Standards for poultry and turkey inspections that will prevent 25,000 illnesses a year due to Salmonella and Campylobacter.
  20. The Food Safety and Inspection Service partnered with the Ad Council to launch the “Food Safe Families” ad campaign.  Since then, USDA consumer food safety messages have reached an estimated 291 million people, helping families and caregivers of young children prepare safe food.
  21. The National Agricultural Statistics Service worked on the 2012 Agricultural Census and obtained a response rate of over 80 percent to the survey sent to more than 3 million producers.
  22. Since 2009 the Economic Research Service has published, on a yearly basis, a fact sheet on the condition of the rural economy that highlights persistent poverty and employment challenges that rural America faces, reminding policymakers of the importance of addressing those challenges.
  23. Since 2009, the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration has identified more than 460 instances of underfunded market accounts of funds held in trust for livestock sellers, and 110 instances of market weighing violations, returning to producers over $14,000,000.
  24. Since 2009, USDA’s Departmental Management has spearheaded the Blueprint for Stronger Service that is saving USDA more than $920 million annually – an effort which to date has allowed USDA to avoid furloughs and layoffs as a result of the sequester.

These are just 24 of the hundreds of examples of extraordinary work going on around the country by USDA employees. Our nation is truly fortunate that so many dedicated people serving the American public are back to work, so that these accomplishments can continue to grow.

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Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  October, 22, 2013 at 08:44 AM

Secretary Vilsack, those USDA employees of whom you are so proud would not have been on furlough if your puppet master, President Obama and Harry Reid would have only practiced responsible government and granted the same exemption to individuals as they have granted to their big political campaign contributors such as unions. USDA employees deserve recognition for the work they do. The Obama Administration doesn't.

Kathy Robinette    
Arkansas  |  October, 22, 2013 at 11:05 AM

On the other side, USDA employees would not have been furloughed if the Tea Party faction had not demanded a federal law be overturned, simply because they do not agree with it. Once a bill has become law, there are Constitutional guidelines to overturning that law; however, nowhere in the Constitution is repeal by minority temper tantrum outlined. I am one of the people with a pre-existing condition who will now be insured under the new Affordable Health Care Act. I am also a farmer. And, if you want to discuss big political campaign contributors, I would begin by mentioning the Koch brothers and their part in the purchasing of our Congressional delegates. There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides.

Craig A. Moore    
Billings, MT  |  October, 22, 2013 at 01:15 PM

Kathy Sure you aren't a paralegal from Green Forrest? And do you already have your application in yet? Know what your costs and deductible yet? And if we don't know what the statistics were for the previous 4 1/2 years, these statistics mean nothing in how good a job they are really doing. And a company here in MT got a huge grant (#3) to install broadband to rural areas but it was withdrawn after 2 companies that already had broadband to those areas complained. I wonder how many other projects were funded fraudulently like that but never got uncovered.

kansas  |  October, 22, 2013 at 01:40 PM

Notice the Top Three Picks for Vilsack (tool of Obama Nanny-State Admin.) are expansions of Social Welfare programs that do nothing to promote ag business and/or free enterprise success? The Secretary of AGRICULTURE is Most Proud of using tax money in financing homes? (As with Fannie/Freddy/FHA, all are failed and bankrupt save for Billion$ of tax dollar$ in bail-outs, but that is his #1 pride & joy.) Vilsack and the Obama USDA have done NOTHING for agriculture or rural, farming Americans, but they've helped those who exploit and demean them quite a lot. Note that you see nothing here about Vilsack & the USDA's support of Meatless Mondays... funny that he's not showing his "pride" there, isn't it?

Tom Neff    
SW MO  |  October, 22, 2013 at 01:45 PM

I suspect that what Kathy meant to say is that she knows someone that farms. It is also clearly laid out in the constitution that the House of Representatives holds the purse strings. This was done for good reason yet the far left tax and spend liberals won't be happy until the majority are on the dole. Nice that you refer to it as the affordable health care act instead of ObumaCare - it's really starting to stink now.


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