JANUARY 04, 2012
In its annual report to Congress the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) brags of an increase in the amount of public assistance it distributes and that it’s leading a “cultural transformation to increase diversity, inclusion and accessibility.”
The bloated agency also boasts of its work on “some of the world’s most pressing problems, including food security, nutrition, food safety, climate change and sustainable bioenergy.”
This has cost U.S. taxpayers tens of millions of dollars with the tab certain to increase this year if the agency meets goals set by the first-ever White House Rural Council, which is chaird by USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack. The details are outlined in the agency’s year-end progress report reviewing its strategic goals, objectives and performance measures.
Released in the last few days, the USDA’s 2011 Performance and Accountability Report is tedious to sort through at 250 pages but Judicial Watch will mention some of the more noteworthy highlights. For instance, the agency increased spending for free meal programs—mainly food stamps—by nearly $8 million over 2010 and by $7.3 million during the same period to “assist rural communities to create prosperity so they are self-sustaining.”
No one should go hungry in America so the USDA “helps nearly one person in four through a number of nutritional assistance programs,” according to the year-end report. The money is distributed through a variety of plans, including food stamps, free school breakfast and lunch and fresh fruit and vegetable programs for low-income residents. “The Department’s commitment to improving the quality and standards of food in our schools, coupled with efforts to increase physical activity, is enabling more children to lead healthier lifestyles,” the report says.
This is a reference to Michelle Obama’s $4.5 billion law (Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act) to control the American diet under the auspice of ending childhood hunger in low-income neighborhoods. The USDA has poured millions into that cause with much more to come in 2012 under the First Lady’s heavily-promoted measure. The official plan is to “raise a healthier generation of kids” and who’s going to argue with that?
Looking ahead, Vilsack says he will build a “better and stronger” USDA in 2012 by engaging “employees and unions to help shape an outcome for the betterment” of the entire agency. This will help complete the USDA’s “cultural transformation” into a “trusted partner” in the lives of Americans. Reading between the lines, this seems to imply that the agency plans to dole out even more taxpayer-funded entitlements in the coming year.
After all, the USDA went on a manic spending spree in 2011 as we have previously reported. Examples include a $5 million campaign to recruit even more food-stamp recipients, $8.8 million to train underserved Hispanics to work at the agency and $2 million to track what minority public school children eat for lunch.
The agency even rewards states with “performance bonuses” for efficiency in adding food-stamp recipients to already bulging rolls. A few months ago Oregon officials bragged about getting a $5 million bonus from the USDA for the “swift processing” of food-stamp applications. The outrageous award came on the heels of a separate $1.5 million bonus from the feds for making “accurate payments of food stamp benefits to clients.”
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