This week on AgriTalk’s Farmer Forum, farmers said the No. 1 thing USDA could do to help is to provide more support to rural America.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue posed this question to farmers on the show, “What are three things you would say, from your perspective as an agricultural producer, that USDA could do to help you be better, do better and be more profitable?”
For Missouri farmer Andrew McCrea, the first thing that comes to mind is rural development support.
“It would be great to have rural broadband,” he said. “It's hard for me to connect. It's hard to do business and, you know, we're in a day and age where you need to be able to connect and pull down enough speed.”
In addition, McCrea said his rural community is seeing a lot of businesses leave.
“Our local town lost our grocery store and a couple of restaurants in the last year or so,” he said. “We need great farms and strong farms, but we also need those communities. So, how do you develop small towns and make sure you don't have to drive 45 minutes for groceries or for a doctor, and you've got a lawyer? Those things are important, and they make a difference in your bottom line when you don't have them close by.”
Illinois farmer Rock Katschnig said drawing down stocks of surplus commodities is at the top of his list.
“The first thing that came to my mind was we're looking at a huge surplus of milk, corn, and soy. Help us distribute our products and get rid of these surpluses,” he said. “I see these sad, sad stories of third-world countries where families [are starving]. Why can’t we get product to those places and help take the supply down?”
In South Dakota, Ryan Wagner said access to power and water are issues.
“It’d be nice if we had some sort of program to get three-phase power to a couple of these remote farm locations,” he said. “That would help a lot with the bigger grain systems, dryers and other things on the farm. Also, rural water in our area is going to be a concern. Our local rural water provider has a moratorium right now on new bulk customers, and that can really inhibit ag development in our area.”
If you could advise Secretary Perdue to spend time working on one specific thing, what would that be? Share in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.