One of USDA’s top priorities is investing in rural communities nationwide, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The agency recently released a rural development report highlighting its successes.
“USDA Rural Development has measurably improved the lives and livelihoods for millions of rural Americans, and their future looks much brighter today than when President Obama took office,” he argues. “The results highlighted in this report demonstrate how long-term government investment and effective partnerships with public and private institutions are central to rural America’s continued progress.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, rural unemployment dipped below 6% in 2015 – the first time since 2007. Rural median household incomes increased during 3.4% in 2015 as well.
USDA says that since 2009, the agency has helped 1.2 million rural Americans buy, refinance or repair their homes. Additionally, USDA has invested about $12 billion in more than 10,000 community projects that include schools, hospitals, community centers and public safety facilities, while also providing loans or grants to more than 122,000 rural business that support around 800,000 jobs.
Under Vilsack’s leadership, , USDA has made the heroin and prescription opioid crisis a top priority in 2016. Quietly, opioid painkiller addiction has proven deadly over and over again. Nearly 10 million U.S. adults reported misusing prescription opioids in 2012-13. In 2014, drug overdose deaths totaled 28,648 – more than are killed in motor vehicle accidents.
USDA pledges to continue to “keep the progress growing” as the Obama administration transitions to the Trump administration. Click here to read the full USDA Rural Development 2016 Progress Report.