U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management. It is the leading Government advocate for rural America and agricultural production. The organisation is made up of 29 agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees who serve the American people at more than 4,500 locations across the country and abroad. The organisation was established on May 15, 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln signed a legislation to establish the USDA.

In order to fulfill its mission, the USDA created a strategic plan that consists of five goals and 16 objectives. Each goal includes outcome-related performance indicators that inform how USDA activities fit within broader societal efforts surrounding achievement of the goal. Performance indicators will track progress in attaining each objective and goal. One of the goals of the USDA is to assist rural communities to create prosperity so they are self-sustaining, re-populating, and economically thriving. Through loans, grants, and technical assistance, the Department will provide support for decent housing and homeownership; health care, school, library, and safety investments; and broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas. For beginner farmers, the USDA will give direct operating microloans. These loans have a short application process and reduced paperwork. Loan amounts of up to $35,000 will be given to be used for equipment, livestock, feed, and other operational expenses. In its first full year of operation, nearly 70 percent of microloans went to beginning farmers.

Another way that the USDA will help rural communities is by expanding broadband capacity into communities that otherwise might not have access. It will expand the availability of public computer centers, and encourage the adoption of broadband service. Increased access to broadband will help rural communities attract new business and cooperative development, connect to the global economy; and increase local leadership development.

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