The USDA is behind many ag in the news stories, but what do they do beyond growing crops?

The USDA is synonymous with the growing and raising of food products, and many ag in the news stories emphasize this. However, the administration has many roles beyond simply assisting farmers and ranchers.

There are very few areas of our daily lives that are not affected in some way by the USDA, from public school lunches to the natural fibers we wear to nutritional assistance programs that help families in need. Similarly, the USDA is also involved in coordinated efforts on a National scale, such as when disasters strike or markets fall. Read some of the stories below that go beyond ag in the news to see ways the USDA has been helping both the ag industry and the citizens of the U.S. lately.

USDA Beyond Ag in the News

The USDA oversees school lunch guidelines under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA). The Obama Administration has announced four final rules to implement provisions of HHFKA that further improve the nutritional quality of school meals. These rules focus on highlighting healthy snacks, marketing only healthy foods, implementing free breakfast and lunch programs, and updating the review process. The programs have been extremely successful in increasing the quality of school breakfasts and lunches in schools across the country. Read more here.

Parts of Louisiana recently experienced historic flooding due to heavy rains, and the USDA is helping in many different ways. The USDA offers assistance for those needing shelter due to property losses, those needing food assistance, and for those with food safety issues, usually due to the loss of electricity. After the immediate needs for food and shelter are met, the USDA also offers programs that assist those in agriculture to recover from crop and livestock loss. The USDA even offers specialized programs that provide resources for communities to recover after a declared natural disaster. Get details here.

Dairy producers have long been facing a stalled marketplace, and revenues have fallen by 35 percent over the last two years. The USDA has now stepped in to assist the country’s dairy producers. First, the USDA is offering $11.5 million in financial assistance for U.S. dairy producers enrolled in the 2016 Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy). Secondly, the USDA announced its intention to buy $20 million in cheese to clear a cheese surplus that is higher than it has been in 30 years. Taking a “two birds, one stone” approach, the USDA will use that 11 million pounds of cheese to stock the shelves of food pantries nation-wide. Read more here.

As agricultural lenders, we at AgAmerica Lending believe in staying abreast of ag in the news stories and USDA programs. To better serve the farmers and ranchers of the U.S. we offer custom loan packages featuring low interest rates, long amortizations, and an outstanding 10-year line of credit.