The 2015 budget will continue to modernize the farm service program delivery system in an effort, it states, to make sure offices are strategically located and have adequate staffing and equipment. Savings from the consolidation of 250 Farm Service Agency offices would be reinvested in the modernization effort.

Vilsack said 31 FSA offices have no full-time employees and others have only one or two employees. The proposed consolidation would not begin until 2015, and the process to close offices would include open local dialogue and decision making.

The budget looks to do much more. Here are a few highlights:

  • Provide direct loans to support 40,000 producers, 85 percent to be beginning ranchers or farmers or socially disadvantaged producers.
  • Resources to support crop insurance coverage for an estimated $63 billion in crop production (normalized value).
  • Provide $2.7 billion for agriculture research and Extension activities.
  • Provide $878 million to support rural business creation and expansion, looking to create 44,000 jobs in rural areas.
  • Secure loans for rural electric services for 4.6 million rural residents.
  • About 23 million acres will be added to the nation's conservation efforts assisting more than 500,000 landowners and producers. This includes enrollment of an additional 10 million acres into the Conservation Stewardship Program, and 25 million acres will be protected in the Conservation Reserve Program.

Under nutrition assistance programs funded by the budget, 46.9 million people will receive nutrition assistance through SNAP; 30.4 million children will be served school lunches and more than 14 million will be served school breakfast each day; and 8.7 million women, infants and children will get WIC program assistance.

Vilsack said foodborne illnesses, especially those related to salmonella, have decreased in recent years. Funding through the 2015 budget for food inspection programs looks to continue this trend by having 52,000 fewer illnesses projected in 2015 compared to 2013.

Here is the whole USDA’s “FY 2015 Budget Summary and Annual Performance Plan.”