U.S. Department of Agriculture

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Department of Agriculture
Secretary:Tom Vilsack
Deputy Secretary:Krysta Harden
Annual budget:$155 billion (2013)
Total employed:100,542
Year created:1862
Official website:http://www.usda.gov/


Executive Departments of the United States

Executive Departments
Department of DefenseDepartment of StateDepartment of Homeland SecurityDepartment of JusticeDepartment of CommerceDepartment of EducationDepartment of the TreasuryDepartment of AgricultureDepartment of EnergyDepartment of LaborDepartment of TransportationDepartment of the InteriorDepartment of Health and Human ServicesDepartment of Veterans AffairsDepartment of Housing and Urban Development

Department Secretaries
Chuck HagelJohn KerryJeh JohnsonEric HolderPenny PritzkerArne DuncanJack LewTom VilsackErnest MonizTom PerezAnthony FoxxSally JewellSylvia Mathews BurwellRobert McDonaldJulian Castro
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a United States executive department established in 1862 in order to "provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management."[1] The department is led by the current secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack.

The department employed an estimated 100,542 people in 2013, operating on a budget of $155 billion.[2]


Following are important dates in the department's history:[3]

  • 1820: United States House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture formed
  • 1825: United States Senate Committee on Agriculture formed
  • 1862: U.S. Department of Agriculture formed
  • 1862: Homestead Act passed, providing land to willing farmers
  • 1862: Morrill Land Grant College Act passed, allowing for land grant colleges
  • 1890: Second Morrill Act passed, establishing black land grant colleges
  • 1890: Federal Meat Inspection Act passed
  • 1906: Food and Drug Act passed
  • 1932-1936: Drought leads to Dust Bowl
  • 1933: Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) established controls on agricultural markets
  • 1936: Rural Electrification Act passed, providing electricity to rural areas
  • 1946: National School Lunch Act passed
  • 1964: Food Stamp Act passed as start to War on Poverty



The Department of Agriculture website states:

"We provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management."[4]

—USDA, [1]


The current secretary of agriculture is Tom Vilsack.

Recent Secretaries of Agriculture
Secretary of Agriculture Years in office Nominated by Confirmation vote
Daniel R. Glickman 1995-2001 Bill Clinton
Ann M. Veneman 2001-2005 George W. Bush
Michael O. Johanns 2005-2007 George W. Bush
Edward T. Schafer 2008-2009 George W. Bush
Tom Vilsack 2009-Present Barack Obama N/A

Note: Votes marked "N/A" represent voice votes or unrecorded votes. Missing votes will be filled as they are researched.

Organizational chart

USDA org chart.gif


Obama administration

Drought assistance

The department announced on October 21, 2014, that a new farm bill provision providing drought affected farmers aid in certain states would be pushed ahead of its scheduled 2016 implementation. The provision allows farmers to drop production years that were below 50 percent of their county's Actual Production History (APH), which averages the past 10 years of crop production to determine crop insurance rates. After continuous droughts, the averages fall leaving farmers able to purchase less comprehensive coverage for their crop seasons. With the provision moved ahead of its scheduled implementation, farmers would be permitted to exempt certain years from their APH allowing them to purchase a higher amount of coverage for a higher premium fee.[5]

When confronted about whether or not the action was political, having been announced less than two weeks prior to the 2014 elections and particularly affecting some federal battleground states, Sec. Tom Vilsack responded, "The timing of it has nothing to do with the election. You’re suggesting its pressure and politics and it’s basically people doing their job and doing a helluva job above and beyond the call of duty. … Federal workers just never ever, ever get their due."[5]


Obama administration


U.S. Department of Agriculture[6] Annual Budget
YearBudget (in billions)% Difference from previous year
  • Note: 2014 only represents the Department's budget request, not an enacted budget.


The Best Places to work in the Federal Government is a website that tracks workforce trends in federal agencies. According to their analysis, from 2008-2012, the Department of Agriculture lost an average of 1,560 jobs per year.[7]


The sequestration in 2013 resulted in the Department furloughing 6,200 food inspectors for 11 days.[8]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term U.S. + Department + Agriculture

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

U.S. Department of Agriculture News Feed

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See also

External links