The USDA is asking for public comment as it reviews existing program rules to determine whether any should be modified, streamlined, clarified, or repealed to improve access to USDA programs. The intent is to minimize burdens on individuals, businesses and communities attempting to access programs that promote economic growth, create jobs, and protect the health and safety of the American people. The review was directed by President Obama in Executive Order 13563, which he signed January 18, 2011.

"As we work to out-build and out-innovate the rest of the world, we must ensure that people across the country are able to access the critical programs and resources that USDA offers," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The comments will allow us to hear directly from those who use USDA programs as we work to streamline rules in a way that improves access to resources intended to create jobs and grow the economy."

USDA initially intends to focus on Rural Development, the Risk Management Agency, the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service. The Department is particularly interested in hearing from the public concerning areas where USDA can simplify and reduce the reporting burden for entry and access to USDA programs, while reducing its administrative and operating costs by sharing similar data across participating agencies.

USDA is seeking input from the public through May 20, 2011. Those interested in offering comments are asked to provide them at www.regulations.gov, a Web-based portal to make it easy for citizens to participate in the Federal rulemaking process. All comments received will be considered as USDA reviews its existing rules.