Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has released the following statement in response to two USDA reports that show the strength of the overall rural economy and growth in agricultural exports:

 “Today’s reports are encouraging news. They show that while American agriculture has struggled through difficult economic times, the 2008 farm bill, the efforts of the Obama Administration — such as the Recovery Act — and the hard work and resilience of America’s farmers and ranchers have helped put American agriculture on the road to recovery. 

“After declining more than 20 percent in 2009, all three measures of farm sector earnings experienced a rapid rebound and are forecast to rise in 2010:

Net cash income is expected to rise more than 23 percent to $85.3 billion — the second highest on record and above its previous 10-year average. Net farm income has rebounded, up 24 percent from 2009, when demand for agricultural products fell worldwide due to the global recession.

Net value added, at $127.3 billion, is expected to be up $15.2 billion from 2009, and remain 17.7 percent above its 10-year average.

“Other indicators also point to a sustainable recovery: Farm asset values are projected to increase by 2.5 percent in 2010, as are equity values. And average farm family household income is projected to reach more than $81,000 in 2010 — up 5.8 percent from 2009. 

“And this recovery is sector-wide. While an increase in the value of livestock production accounted for much of the upward movement, the value of dairy production rose by 26.2 percent; the value of meat animal production is up 14.6 percent, and the value of poultry and egg production rose 8.4 percent. And commercial farms and intermediate farms are all expected to have higher average net cash income in 2010 than they did in either 2009 or 2008. Rural residence farms will have lower net cash losses.