A Comprehensive Farm Bill Will Build On Recent Momentum Of The U.S. Agriculture Economy
The U.S. agriculture sector is a key engine of economic growth. Not only does it put food on the table of American families at affordable prices and provide raw material for a range of vital purposes—it also supports millions of jobs and is a key economic driver in many rural communities.
In recent years, the agriculture sector has seen strong growth, with farm income and agriculture exports both reaching historical highs not witnessed in decades.
- After adjusting for inflation, net farm income – at $120 billion for 2013 – now stands at its second-highest level since 1973.
- Farm asset values are expected to rise 7.1 percent in 2013, as farmland values are expected to continue rising; farm equity is expected to increase by 7.6 percent in 2013.
Since the President took office, agriculture exports have had the strongest five-year period of growth in our nation's history, and hit a record level in the last fiscal year:
- In the 2013 fiscal year, exports reached over $140 billion -- exceeding the previous high of $137 in FY2011, and setting a new record.
- The average volume of bulk commodities exported increased by nearly four million tons per year over the past five years.
- U.S. farm exports have supported about one million American jobs.
Between 1948 and 2011, total farm production more than doubled, and U.S. total agricultural output grew at an average annual rate of 1.49 percent over this period. Almost all of this growth in U.S. agricultural output was due to increased productivity growth.
The Farm Bill offers an opportunity to build on this progress, providing long-term certainty about the next five years of U.S. farm policy for America's farmers, ranchers and producers.
A Comprehensive Farm Bill Will Invest In Rural Development
The Farm Bill authorizes and directs the work of USDA-Rural Development, with a mission of improving the quality of life in rural America by financing long-term investments in the future of rural communities through loans, loan guarantees, grants, and technical assistance.
While there is a vibrant agricultural economy today, rural America continues to face a number of unique challenges:
- Eighty-five percent of persistent poverty counties in America—counties where poverty has been high for at least 30 years—are in rural areas.
- Additionally, rural America faces a growing demographic challenge due, in part, to lowering birth rates and an aging population: between 2010 and 2012, rural areas experienced the first recorded period of population loss.