Excerpts from Michael Scuse, FAS/USDA

April 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm Leave a comment

Michael Scuse, Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS)

First, I’m not a beaurocrat.  I’m a Kent County dirt farmer.  That’s my true love.

Our farm community keeps getting smaller and growing older.  The average age of the American farmer is 57.  I’m hoping we can stop that, that the average age will come down, and that we’ll get young people interested in agriculture and keep them there. 

USDA programs are helping Americans from coast to coast – providing snap benefits to 38 million Americans.  Providing disaster relief to farmers to help them get their farms up and running again.  We’re called the “everyday every way” organization.  We also provide 31 million school children with lunches. 

We focus on reaching out to all Americans, open communication with all stakeholders and everyday Americans.  We began “Know your Farmer, Know your Food” to educate the 98% of our population that are consumers far removed from farms today.  We need to do a better job of educating people about where their food comes from.  It doesn’t come from Walmart down the street.  It comes from your farms and ranches.

We’re working to make sure farmers and ranchers stay strong through the economic downtown.  We’re also working to end child hunger in America by 2015.  Last night, 1 billion people went to bed hungry.  We don’t think about it in the US, but we have children here who go to bed every night hungry.  We need to address our issues here, as well as those 1 billion people going hungry.

Women are returning to the farm in the same numbers as men.  Over the past few years, some Americans from non-farm backgrounds are leaving careers to start a new career in agriculture.  To start a new farm, isn’t easy.  Land costs are extremely high, and younger people have more trouble obtaining credit.  It’s not an easy industry even for seasoned veterans, so it stands to reason starting a new operation is tough.  USDA is committed to providing these farmers with the tools they need and all the help they can possible give. 

FAS exist to help farmers and ranchers.  That is our sole purpose.  We work in industries around the world and is in 97 countries.  We’re also at work in Washington working on new programs and targeting those programs to young farmers.  The work of maintaining high level markets for agricultural products is maintained by staff at FAS.  Healthy trade agreements and robust markets are imperative to this industry.  That 13.2 billion bushel corn crop we did this year is no fluke.  Because of technology, this numbers will grow.

Just 10 years ago, the value of US products exported was 10 billion dollars.  In 2009, the value was $96.7 billion.  We just had the largest trading month in history in November with 10 billion dollars.  The first fiscal quarter of this year was the largest quarter of trade we’ve ever had.  We’re on course this year to export over $100 billion dollars worth of products.  That’s the second largest year ever.

We need good young people, not just on the field or on the ranch, but in government as well.  We need to best and brightest to help USDA serve the ag community in the best manner possible.

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Entry filed under: Agriculture's Promise 2010, NYFEA info. Tags: , , , .

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