USDA details damage GOP refusal to pass farm bill has on America — but politely


The case for a farm bill that we won’t get before January; press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (some links, and all images, added here).

Public relations campaigns from the federal government used to be quite a bit more robust than this.

USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

FACT SHEET: Supporting Innovation That Boosts Agriculture and Creates Jobs in Rural America

Farm south of Withee, Wisconsin. Wikipedia image

Farm south of Withee, Wisconsin. Wikipedia image


Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted a national media call with Jack Payne, Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida. The Secretary emphasized the importance of Farm Bill research programs that enable the University of Florida and other Land Grant Universities across the nation to carry out groundbreaking discoveries, strengthen agriculture and grow business opportunity in rural America. Secretary Vilsack called on Congress to expedite passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that continues record efforts to spur innovation and create jobs across rural America.

Amazing scientific breakthroughs have helped our farmers, ranchers and growers increase production on the same amounts of land, using fewer inputs. In fact, studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research returns $20 to the economy.

Advanced new products are being created across the country using materials grown in America’s farm fields – with more than 3,000 U.S. companies creating advanced biobased products today.

And clean, renewable fuel energy and new energy efficiency technologies are helping families and businesses across the nation, reducing our reliance on foreign oil.

A farm in California; photo by karmadude

A farm in California; photo by karmadude

USDA is hard at work to support all of these efforts – and we depend on the Farm Bill to make possible much of our work to boost rural innovation. A new Farm Bill would:

  • Modernize and expand America’s capacity for agricultural research. The Farm Bill would enable public-private funding efforts to expand capacity for agricultural research, returning even more benefits to the economy.
  • Adequately invest in energy-saving efforts such as the Rural Energy for America Program, enabling even more projects to save energy on farms across the nation. Since 2009 alone, these projects have resulted in energy savings of more than 8.5 million MwH – but a new Farm Bill is needed for further progress.
  • Continue the work of the USDA BioPreferred Program, which depends on the Farm Bill to work with biobased companies across the nation, expand the Federal government’s use of their innovative products and ultimately create jobs.
  • Maintain support for research into wood-based products and energy. With a record level of forest restoration underway today, we need a Farm Bill that continues research and helps find new uses for forest-based products.

A Farm Bill would continue advances in agricultural technology that allow today’s producers to grow two, three of four times as much today as they were just 60 years ago. In the past few years alone:

  • USDA scientists have developed new techniques in the fight against Citrus Greening, a disease that seriously threatens citrus crops. Just this week, USDA announced a new Emergency Response Framework and provided $1 million to boost this multi-partner, coordinated strategy to fight Citrus Greening.
  • Researchers have mapped the genomes of numerous plants and animals in the past five years. This year, USDA made new discoveries into the genetic makeup of cotton, oats and watermelon. This builds on research efforts that have mapped the genomes of apples, pigs, turkeys, tomatoes, beans, and more.
  • Scientific discoveries have improved crop varieties to keep food safer and mitigate climate impacts. USDA has recently explored the use of peanut skins as a food ingredient to boost the nutritional value of foods; pinpointed ways to prepare beef cuts to reduce the risk of contamination with the foodborne pathogen E. coli O157:H7; produced new, flavorful, high-yielding varieties of strawberries, grapes, pecans and peanuts; and worked to improve drought-resistance crop varieties.

A Farm Bill would allow the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to continue work with Land-Grant University researchers across the nation to conduct research and train the next generation of scientists.

  • Since 2009, NIFA has invested more than $6 billion in agricultural research and extension activities. This funding was possible largely through programs authorized under the Farm Bill. NIFA partners have used this help to leverage more than $1 billion in additional research dollars.
  • Nearly 400 patent applications have resulted from NIFA research since 2009 – covering a wide range of topics and discoveries.
  • Over the course of more than 150 years of history, Land-Grant Universities have educated more than 20,000,000 students.

A Farm Bill would support the invention and creation of innovative new products from homegrown sources. Thanks to the USDA BioPreferred Program, provided by the Farm Bill:

  • More than 1,000 products today carry USDA’s “ Certified Biobased Product” label. Thanks to the new label, these innovative, American-made products are easier to find on store shelves than ever before – everything from cleaners and paint to motor oil.
  • Nearly 100 separate categories of homegrown biobased products are prioritized for use by the Federal Government. Today, Yellowstone National Park uses biobased lubricants and cleaning products throughout its 2.2 million acres. At the Statue of Liberty, biobased hydraulic oils are used in the elevator system. Multiple U.S. military bases across the nation are using biobased products. And there is further room for growth.
  • Researchers at the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory are revolutionizing wood products for use in materials we need. Body armor, auto parts and new building materials are being developed using homegrown products – and in many cases, they’re stronger and better than what we use today.

A new Farm Bill would continue advancing clean renewable energy that starts in rural America – creating jobs and boosting America’s energy security.

  • More than 9,250 renewable energy projects are underway today as a result of USDA help in the past five years, helping farmers and landowners install new energy-saving technology, along with energy generation tools such as anaerobic digesters.
  • Eight advanced biorefineries are creating the advanced renewable energy of the future, today. USDA was there to support their creation through loan guarantee efforts provided by the Farm Bill.
  • More than 220 Wood to Energy projects are helping find new uses for wood in renewable energy generation. This will provide even more market opportunities for wood byproducts generated during forest restoration, and ultimately will provide a new income sources in rural areas.
  • The U.S. Navy and others have partnered with USDA to create renewable energy to power our military. In fact, the military is our single largest consumer of petroleum – and by creating advanced renewable marine and aviation biofuels, we’re working together to increase America’s energy security. This week, Secretary Vilsack and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced a new Department of Defense Farm to Fleet Initiative that will further improve America’s capacity to create military-ready advanced biofuels.

American innovation is one of our most special traditions. Rural America has the capacity to help lead the way to even more amazing work in the years to come – creating good jobs and economic opportunity in the process. But we need Congress to get its work done and provide a new Farm Bill that recommits our nation to strong agricultural research, and continued development of amazing homegrown products.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, South Building, Washington, D.C.  Image from Thornton Thomasetti

Where the policies get made and programs are administered, U.S. Department of Agriculture, South Building, Washington, D.C. Image from Thornton Thomasetti

Number of Biobased Companies Operating in the United States

A map of U.S. biobased companies is available here.

States/Biobased Companies

  • Alabama – 16
  • Alaska – 5
  • Arizona – 54
  • Arkansas – 17
  • California – 391
  • Colorado – 79
  • Connecticut – 40
  • Delaware – 9
  • Dist of Columbia – 2
  • Florida – 161
  • Georgia – 92
  • Hawaii – 11
  • Idaho – 16
  • Illinois – 173
  • Indiana – 46
  • Iowa – 92
  • Kansas – 28
  • Kentucky – 21
  • Louisiana – 11
  • Maine – 22
  • Maryland – 36
  • Massachusetts – 73
  • Michigan – 80
  • Minnesota – 124
  • Mississippi – 21
  • Missouri – 56
  • Montana – 10
  • Nebraska – 29
  • Nevada – 14
  • New Hampshire – 25
  • New Jersey – 90
  • New Mexico – 17
  • New York – 151
  • North Carolina – 90
  • North Dakota – 6
  • Ohio – 138
  • Oklahoma – 9
  • Oregon – 79
  • Pennsylvania – 129
  • Rhode Island – 8
  • South Carolina – 19
  • South Dakota – 12
  • Tennessee – 35
  • Texas – 167
  • Utah – 14
  • Vermont – 11
  • Virginia – 57
  • Washington – 111
  • West Virginia – 3
  • Wisconsin – 95
  • Wyoming – 8

Total – 3003

Source: USDA BioPreferred Program

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

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Listening to the debates on Capitol Hill, one may wonder whether Members of Congress still employ staffers to track agriculture issues in their states and districts, to translate local needs into federal policy.  To what entity are Congress members loyal, with more allegiance than they owe their American constituents?

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