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An Open Letter to our new USDA Secretary

There’s a lot of political reshuffling taking place in Washington, D.C. this month. The Center of Rural Affairs headquartered in Nebraska...

There’s a lot of political reshuffling taking place in Washington, D.C. this month. The Center of Rural Affairs headquartered in Nebraska has taken the liberty of putting some candid thoughts together for our new Secretary of Agriculture. Here’s what they’d like him to think about:

Dear Secretary of Agriculture,
Congratulations on your selection to lead the Department of Agriculture. We offer our support and assistance. The President-elect has already provided a compelling mission to guide your efforts in his platform, “Real Leadership for Rural America.”

“Rural communities in America are at a critical point in history. For the past decade, rural America has not been well served by federal policies, and if Republicans and Democrats in Washington continue those misguided policies, rural families will see their economic fortunes fall further behind those of other Americans. But we have the power to set a different course. Innovative rural Americans have proven they can compete in the 21st century. But local initiative must be matched by federal policies that empower rural Americans and family farmers.”

Please consider these recommendations as you launch your efforts to achieve that mission.

Support grassroots entrepreneurship – The best development results from rural people creating their own jobs through small business, value-added agriculture, and other owner-operated ventures. It’s responsible for most of the new jobs in rural America. Grassroots entrepreneurship puts profits into local wallets of those who work. And it keeps control of the community’s future in the hands of its members…..

The letter goes on to say:

Harness the power of research to create a better rural future – The most powerful tool you have to create a better future in rural America may be the two billion dollar research program at the Department of Agriculture. One change in the way it is managed could make an enormous difference.

Begin awarding funding to scientists based in part on the potential of the projects they propose to improve economic opportunity in rural America; revitalize rural communities; support owner-operated family farms and businesses; and enable us to meet our food, fiber, and energy needs in an environmentally responsible manner.

Nothing would more quickly focus the attention of agricultural scientists and land grant colleges on solving the most pressing problems of America and its rural communities.

To read the full letter go to