×

USDA accomplished much in 2018

Key federal department finished year with superb record

As 2019 begins, it’s a good time to reflect not just on what lies ahead, but also on what was accomplished in the year that just ended. At the United States Department of Agriculture, 2018 was challenging. It was also a time when the department’s leaders and almost 100,000 employees achieved a great deal.

The USDA is a massive enterprise, consisting of 29 agencies with more than 4,500 locations all across America and around the globe. Just before Christmas, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue took the time to look back on 2018 and assess how his department had handled its diverse responsibilities.

“In 2018 we have fought for American farmers, ranchers and producers by delivering new and improved trade deals like USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) and a re-negotiated KORUS (U.S. Korea Free Trade) agreement, provided trade assistance to farmers due to illegal trade retaliation, and helped our fellow citizens through devastating natural disasters,” Perdue said in a statement issued Dec. 21.

Perdue has good reason to be proud of the work the USDA undertook so successfully in 2018. Here are a few of the accomplishments:

• Trade — New or revised trade pacts are making it easier to sell American agricultural products internationally. Expanded major marketing opportunities were negotiated Canada, Mexico and South Korea. Also as a result of USDA efforts, more agricultural products can be sold in Argentina, El Salvador, Japan, India, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa and Turkey. Extensive help was afforded to American farmers to mitigate the financial impact of retaliatory measures that took place incident to trade disputes.

• Farm bill — The USDA helped Congress enact a new farm bill by providing more than 2,000 technical assistance items to members as they sought to craft this legislation.

• National School Lunch Program — Regulations were revised to enable schools to offer more appealing meals. According to the USDA, this resulted in less waste of food.

• Emergency initiatives — The USDA provided help the victims of major hurricanes and wildfires. To help prevent future fires, in excess of 3.5 million acres of timber was treated to eliminate hazardous fuels.

• Better service — Reorganizations and other initiatives made the USDA more efficient in meeting the needs of farmers and others. An online feedback tool named “Tell Sonny” was inaugurated to improve the department’s communication with the people it serves.

Here in the Hawkeye State, the importance of the USDA is well understood. It is encouraging that Perdue and his team are dedicated to making an already outstanding department even better. The Messenger applauds their efforts. We look forward to even more success stories in the years ahead.