As Americans celebrate Labor Day this weekend, I know the holiday is overshadowed by a drought that has been extremely challenging for thousands of farm and ranch families.
President Obama and I will continue to do all we can to help drought-stricken producers. In a nation where one of every 12 jobs is supported by agriculture, we know that it's critical to help farmers, ranchers and producers mitigate the effects of drought and continue to strengthen the agriculture sector.
Meanwhile we will continue to call on Congress to pass a comprehensive, multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill -- to give USDA tools to help drought stricken producers, and to give more certainty to farmers and ranchers.
But even in a challenging time, American agriculture has stayed strong and resilient. That's why, as we gather with family and friends to mark Labor Day, it couldn't be a more appropriate time to say "Thank You" to the folks who provide the most affordable, the most abundant, and the safest food supply on earth.
It takes hard work to plant seeds, care for crops and raise livestock. It takes hard work to harvest our food. It takes hard work to process it, package it, transport it, shelve it and sell it. Every day, our farmers, farm workers and people all along the supply chain get these jobs done well, and their commitment benefits us all.
President Obama and I believe that we owe these workers our commitment to a strong farm sector and a thriving rural economy -- one that helps communities grow, while giving folks a chance to work hard and get ahead.
Since 2009, we've provided an historic amount of investment to grow opportunity in rural America. USDA has provided record numbers of loans to help farmers and rural small businesses grow. We implemented farm safety net programs that helped hundreds of thousands of producers keep their business running. We modernized utilities and services to help communities prosper -- such as broadband internet for 7 million rural Americans, and more than 5,700 telemedicine and distance learning programs in rural areas.
Ultimately, our efforts to invest in small towns and rural communities are helping to build a strong American economy that starts with the middle class -- where our rural businesses grow and hire more, and where American workers have even more opportunities to get ahead.
This Labor Day, please join me in taking this chance to remember the hard work of folks who provide food for our nation, and know that at USDA, we will continue to support their work while helping rural America create even more jobs.