The New Year affords us the opportunity to take stock of last year’s achievements, reflect on accomplishments, changes in our lives, and plan for the opportunities ahead. It’s also a good time to review our work at FSA over the past 12 months. In that spirit, we have published FSA’s new IMPACTS: Selected Accomplishments 2016 that highlights many of the great things we’ve done for America’s farmers and ranchers.
The Impacts Report is a summary review of the various programs and initiatives administered by the agency, including simple charts that show how agency funds were spent when serving production agriculture.
Over the past 8 years, the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency has worked hard to deliver results to the American farmer and rancher. We’ve conducted thousands of public educational meetings; enrolled almost 2 million producers in our crop safety-net programs; helped more than 734,000 family ranchers with livestock forage losses; and provided half of the Nation’s dairies with margin protection. We’ve delivered nearly $39.9 billion in credit to new and longstanding family operations. We’ve also enrolled 15.7 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program; certified millions of acreage reports; provided critical assistance to cotton producers; pioneered innovative outreach to new and underserved customers; partnered with over 20 States to nearly double the number of renewable fuel pumps nationwide; and purchased over $6.7 billion of commodities for food aid programs. During 2016, FSA also launched an innovative “FSAfarm+” tool for producers to increase their efficiency managing FSA records and expanded the Farm Storage Facility Program.
These achievements are impressive, but they merely scratch the surface and only tell a part of the real story of FSA. These stories are found in the diverse and productive farms and ranches that I’ve seen during my travels. I’ve driven a ’67 John Deere in the cornfields of Illinois and a Case IH Quad Trac in the wheat fields of eastern Washington. I’ve toured a fruit and vegetable operation in Maine, watched oysters being harvested in Connecticut, admired beet fields in North Dakota, met with beekeepers on the California border with Mexico, and visited with cotton growers in west Texas. Most recently, I explored urban agriculture on a high-rise rooftop in Brooklyn and visited hydroponic agriculture operations in remote Alaskan villages.
The stories of our farms and ranches and the hardworking employees of FSA who are providing them with extraordinary service and meaningful safety net programs have connected me more deeply to our rural heritage than I’d ever imagined possible. And I’m fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to witness firsthand the hard work of not only our country’s farmers and ranchers, but also of my USDA colleagues all over this great Nation.
The FSA Impacts Report highlights FSA’s impacts and contributions to rural America in 2016. While you read and reflect upon the challenges and successes of the past year, remember that it all begins across that well-worn countertop, polished by decades of elbows and flannel shirts, in 2,124 FSA county offices from Maine to California, where USDA’s “can do” agency is working hard every day to support the men and women of American agriculture.