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USDA played crucial role in 2020

Helped American agriculture both respond to pandemic and thrive

By Staff | Jan 5, 2021

In mid-December, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue released a detailed assessment of his department’s accomplishments in 2020.

“While this was a tough year with the coronavirus, historic wildfires and weather damage, USDA met these challenges with a multitude of programs and services to support Americans and keep our agricultural sector running and responsive to the country’s needs,” Perdue said.

The USDA stayed focused on assisting, strengthening and promoting American agriculture. It also developed and operated an array of initiatives designed to help our nation respond to the pandemic.

Here are some of the USDA’s pandemic-related success stories in 2020:

– The department’s Agricultural Marketing Service bought $8.6 billion in food that was provided to entities such as food banks, churches, schools and other organizations that were working hard to address food challenges brought about or worsened by the pandemic. The Farmers to Families Food Box Program provided 125 million food boxes to folks all across our nation who found themselves in need of this assistance.

– The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program provided financial assistance to food producers that incurred revenue losses or greater marketing costs due to the pandemic. This relief was expected to exceed $30 billion for 2020.

– Making sure that our nation’s children had the food they needed during 2020 was a priority at the USDA. The department made extensive adjustments to its 15 nutrition assistance programs to provide the flexibility needed to respond appropriately in the changed circumstances created by the pandemic.

The USDA did much more in 2020 than help our nation respond to the pandemic. These were a few of its additional accomplishments:

– The department helped the Trump administration make huge changes in trade arrangements that will help farmers thrive far into the future. The most important developments in that regard were a major new agreement with China and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

– Getting broadband more widely available in rural America has been a key USDA priority. Much was achieved in 2020. According to Perdue, USDA investments this year brought high-speed internet to 280,000 households, 19,978 farms and 10,053 businesses.

– The USDA continued to evolve its Agriculture Innovation Agenda. The goal, planned for achievement by 2050, is increasing U.S. agricultural production by 40 percent while simultaneously cutting the negative environmental impact of American agriculture by 50 percent.

– The department released the USDA Science Blueprint. This document outlined a visionary scientific research agenda for the next five years. This game plan is intended to help foster the innovation that will keep American agriculture the world’s trendsetter.

Agriculture is vital to the well-being of the Hawkeye State. A vibrant and forward-looking USDA is of vital importance Iowa. The Messenger applauds Perdue and his team at the USDA for an impressive record in 2020. The department helped our nation get through a very challenging year. Its work also set the stage for even more important achievements in 2021 and beyond.

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