Proud of USDA’s fiscal responsibility

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, April 17, 2013

by Tom Vilsack

This week, President Barack Obama released his budget proposal for the Federal government, including USDA, for Fiscal Year 2014.

Today, the Federal budget is more important than ever. The American people expect and deserve a government that operates efficiently and effectively. We must carry out our mission while safeguarding taxpayer dollars.

Our USDA employees have worked hard in recent years to manage with fewer resources. The Department’s discretionary budget that funds our operations is lower today than it was in 2009 — but we are still getting the job done.

Part of the reason we’ve been able to accomplish this is by managing our budget proactively. We reduced our workforce, closed offices and labs, streamlined IT services and cut travel. These efforts have resulted in savings of more than $700 million in recent years.

This week’s budget proposal includes additional targeted savings for USDA. It strikes a balance to keep growing our economy and the middle class, while reducing the deficit in a common sense and balanced way.

It supports President Obama’s commitment to accelerate the economic recovery, to make our nation a magnet for jobs, and to create ladders of opportunity that will help all Americans benefit from economic growth.

The proposal also reflects an understanding that there are only so many ways to cut USDA’s operating budget. We’ll keep working hard to find savings, but it’s important to ensure that USDA can keep providing modern service while maintaining the integrity of our programs.

In the years ahead we’ll continue to be creative, to think outside the box and to build new partnerships. We’ll balance this with a commitment to further modernize our Department into the future.

I’m proud of USDA’s record accomplishments, made alongside efforts to save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. I know that we can keep this up, and together we can create even more prosperity in rural America.

Tom Vilsack is the United States’ Secretary of Agriculture and heads the United States Department of Agriculture.