If it's on your dinner plate, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) had a hand in getting it there. The USDA oversees matters related to the nation's agricultural industry and food supply. Its main mission is to assist America's farmers and ranchers, provide outreach and education to the public, and help secure trade agreements to expand agricultural exports. Among its numerous functions, it provides training and scientific resources to farmers, awards grants, monitors food safety, operates the
USDA's mission is to empower and revitalize farms, ranches, and rural communities. It provides supporting innovative research and gives farmers and ranchers access to international markets through market development programs, trade shows, and by assisting in the negotiation of trade agreements to benefit US agricultural producers.
It is also pushing for collaboration between federal, state, and local governments, and private sector, non-profit community, and educational institutions to help develop regional strategies and coalitions to support the growth of agriculture-based local communities.
In 2018 USDA's outlays were estimated at about $140 billion, up from $133 billion and $138 billion in 2017 and 2016, respectively. Mandatory spending is about $116 billion, with discretionary spending at $21 billion. About 70% of the outlay is dedicated to nutrition assistance, with farm and commodity programs and conservation and forestry accounting for 20% and more than 5%, respectively.
USDA's long-term strategy is focused on five broad initiatives: assisting rural communities in becoming self sustaining and profitable; preserving and improving national forests and private lands and upgrading water supply and quality; promoting agricultural and biotechnology exports; ensuring that all children in the US have access to safe, nutritious, and balanced meals; and making the agency more efficient and adaptable.
In 2017 the USDA created an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs to focus on the importance of international trade to American agriculture. To improve its interactions with its constituents, the USDA formed the Farm Production and Conservation mission. The department also raised the status of its Rural Development agencies, which now report directly to the secretary of agriculture. That move recognizes the need to promote rural prosperity.
USDA was founded in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln, who called it "the people's department."
1400 INDEPENDENCE AVE SW
Washington, DC 20250-0002
Phone: 1 (202) 720-3631
Employer Type: Privately Owned
CIO: Jonathan Alboum
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture: Krysta Harden
Secretary of Agriculture: Thomas J. Vilsack
Employees (This Location): 9,718
Employees (All Locations): 104,305