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Friday, March 11, 2011

We need to do a better job in rural America...

telling our story.

Rural America is the rolling hills you wind through going on vacation; it’s the small town with the amazing restaurant and art gallery just off the interstate; it’s the strawberry patch where your kindergartener uses one hand to put strawberries in his bucket and the other to put them in his mouth. Rural America is filled to the brim with farmers supplying our stores with safe, fresh, affordable food -the same food we buy with a much smaller portion of our paycheck than any other country in the world.

Federal spending on farm programs represents less than one-half of one percent of the federal budget.

Drill down further, the USDA’s budget devotes only 17% of its budget to farm & commodity programs.

Let’s put some numbers to those percentages.
$25 billion is budgeted by the USDA for farm & commodity programs. The USDA’s budget is $146 billion. (as a side bar, 70% of the USDA’s budget is for nutrition assistance – that’s $102.2 billion)

And a pie chart. (

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack describes rural America as "a unique and interesting place that (I don’t think) a lot of folks fully appreciate and understand. They don’t understand that while it represents 16 % of America’s population, 44 % of the military comes from rural America. It’s the source of our food, fiber and feed, and 88% of our renewable water resources. One of every 12 jobs in the American economy is connected in some way to what happens in rural America. It’s one of the few parts of our economy that still has a trade surplus."

Well said Mr. Secretary.

Now let’s each find a way to tell our own story of rural America.

Next time…
What exactly is "a billion"?
What happened "a billion" seconds ago?
How many bales of cotton will a billion cotton bolls make?


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