Healthy markets play a critical role in the strength of American agriculture. To help maintain strong, transparent markets USDA gathers and provides up-to-the-minute information from around the country on price, supply, demand and movement.
That way, farmers and ranchers -- no matter how big or small -- can operate on a level playing field and take a look at the same information as they evaluate market conditions, make purchasing and selling decisions, monitor price patterns, and work to identify market opportunities and project future trends.
USDA started reporting on markets for agricultural products nearly 100 years ago. Today, our employees around the country are building relationships with sellers and buyers, verifying and analyzing prices and releasing reports to help ensure that agricultural markets run smoothly.
Every day, they produce hundreds of market reports on commodities ranging from cotton, dairy, livestock and grains, to poultry, eggs, fruits and vegetables.
This same group of hard-working individuals also helps set the grades and standards that make our agricultural system the healthiest in the world. They survey quality so buyers and sellers know they are comparing apples to apples -- or wheat to wheat. Every day, companies ask USDA to come and certify the quality of the grains, meats and other products they are producing or buying.
We also offer this level of certainty on seeds, so you can trust the label when you go to the store. This is true whether you're a farmer planting 1000 acres of corn -- or a family buying herbs and vegetables for a backyard garden.
The men and women who help create and apply the grades and standards, who check for quality and consistency, or who report on the markets every day don't often get the recognition or thanks they deserve. Though their work might go unnoticed, the information they provide and the services they offer help make sure that we're all playing by the same rules, and that businesses and farm families have the information they need to make informed decisions.
Without their consistent effort to determine the most accurate pricing and quality information, farm families might sell their crops at a disadvantage in the market. Their success is critical to the well being of rural America and of our nation as a whole.
That's why -- as we celebrate record farm income and one of the strongest agricultural markets in decades -- I hope we can take a minute to thanks these folks who promote good jobs in American agriculture.