DEFINITION of 'USDA'

A department of the United States government that manages various programs related to food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development and nutrition. The United States Department of Agriculture tries to expand economic opportunity in rural areas, make sure Americans are properly fed and conserve natural resources. President Lincoln founded the USDA in 1862, at a time when about 50% of Americans lived on farms.

BREAKING DOWN 'USDA'

The head of the USDA is the Secretary of Agriculture. Second in charge is the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, who oversees the department’s daily operations and budget. Seven undersecretaries oversee the divisions for rural development, food safety and other areas.

The USDA’s programs help provide the following services, among others: broadband access in rural areas; disaster assistance to farmers, ranchers and rural residents; soil, water and other natural resource conservation to landowners; wildfire prevention; and agricultural research and statistics. The USDA is also responsible for school meal nutrition; nutrition education; organic food standards; food assistance for women, infants and children (WIC); and the food stamp program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP).

The USDA also provides financial assistance for purchasing and refinancing rural homes. It provides direct loans to very-low-income borrowers who want to purchase a rural home, guaranteed loans to moderate-income homebuyers, and loans and grants for rural home improvements and repairs. 

RELATED TERMS
  1. USDA Rural Refinance Pilot Program

    A mortgage-refinancing option offered in some states and territories ...
  2. Rural Housing Service - RHS

    An administrative division within the U.S. Department of Agriculture ...
  3. USDA Streamlined Refinancing

    A mortgage-refinancing option offered by the United States Department ...
  4. Farmers Home Administration - FmHA

    An agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture created to assist ...
  5. Agricultural Sector Investment ...

    A World Bank program focused on agricultural development in Africa. ...
  6. USDA Non-Streamlined Refinancing

    A mortgage-refinancing option offered by the United States Department ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    How to Get a No-Down-Payment Mortgage

    It's harder to find, but you can still buy a home without any money down.
  2. Personal Finance

    5 Mortgage Loans You Didn't Know About

    These lesser known mortgage loans are often overlooked by potential home buyers.
  3. Managing Wealth

    Farmers Markets—Gaining Ground in Grocery Sector

    Farmers markets have gained a solid foothold in the grocery sector, but it seems that large retailers will retain the lion's share of the industry.
  4. Investing

    How to Get A No-Down-Payment Mortgage

    There are many programs offering no-down-payment home loans to qualified homebuyers.
  5. Insights

    The Farmer's Grip on Japanese Politics

    If you live in Tokyo, Japan's biggest city, then your vote is cheap. If you want your voice to count, move out to the countryside and buy a farm.
  6. Investing

    A Primer For Investing In Agriculture

    In this article, we'll look at the agriculture sector and the different ways investors can approach it.
  7. Investing

    Why Organic Food Is So Expensive

    Discover how organic farmers face many obstacles. Learn why your organics cost so much more than conventional foods and if there is any hope for falling prices.
  8. Investing

    DBA vs. USAG: Comparing Agriculture ETFs

    Read a comparison of USAG and DBA, and learn about the characteristics, strategies and performance statistics of these agriculture exchange-traded funds.
  9. Investing

    The Top 3 ETFs For Investing in Agriculture (DBA, MOO)

    Learn about some the best available exchange-traded funds for profiting from exposure to the agricultural sector through stocks and futures.
  10. Retirement

    Retirement Programs That Help Low Income Seniors

    Plans and strategies for building a healthy and satisfying life, even if your retirement income isn't as high as you wish it could be.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What economic indicators do agriculture investors need to watch?

    Agriculture investors should keep an eye on land prices, interest rates, inflation, harvest performance and speculative investment ... Read Answer >>
  2. What is the point of agricultural subsidies?

    Read about the historical origins of agricultural subsidies, and find out why the government spends hundreds of billions ... Read Answer >>
  3. How does scarcity affect global agriculture stocks?

    Explore how scarcity affects the price of agricultural stocks. Learn how the price of agricultural commodities is closely ... Read Answer >>
  4. How does the risk of investing in the food and beverage sector compare to the broader ...

    Find out why investing in the food and beverage sector is generally considered to be less risky than investments in the broader ... Read Answer >>
  5. Who are Whole Foods' (WFM) main competitors?

    Learn more about Whole Foods Markets, who insists its products are sustainable. Thanks to the competition, however, its marketing ... Read Answer >>
  6. What countries are driving most of the growth of the food and beverage sector?

    Learn about the countries, primarily emerging market nations, that are currently driving most of the growth in the food and ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Cash Flow

    The net amount of cash and cash-equivalents moving into and out of a business. Positive cash flow indicates that a company's ...
  2. PLUS Loan

    A low-cost student loan offered to parents of students currently enrolled in post-secondary education. With a PLUS Loan, ...
  3. Graduate Record Examination - GRE

    A standardized exam used to measure one's aptitude for abstract thinking in the areas of analytical writing, mathematics ...
  4. Graduate Management Admission Test - GMAT

    A standardized test intended to measure a test taker's aptitude in mathematics and the English language. The GMAT is most ...
  5. Magna Cum Laude

    An academic level of distinction used by educational institutions to signify an academic degree which was received "with ...
  6. Cover Letter

    A written document submitted with a job application explaining the applicant's credentials and interest in the open position. ...
Trading Center