The U.S. Agriculture Department is tasked to supply "leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management." The agency's FY2011 budget -- which begins in October -- calls for just under 100,000 full time employees (though there's one less now than last week).
The number of people working the land has dropped for decades, reflecting aging and automation of the sector. According to 2009 data in a May 14, 2010, Bureau of Labor Statistics release, actual agriculture "production" work employed only 12,480 full-time workers (of course there were other other agricultural industry jobs in construction, sales, management, hunting/fishing, etc.).
A decade ago, there was one Department of Agriculture employee for every four full-time farmers. It's now about one to eight.
[NOfP correction, July 23rd: Opps--I reversed the numbers. It was about 4 USDA employees per full-time farmer; now it's 8 USDA employees per full-time farmer. In other words, it's getting worse, not better.]
The Department spends most its allocated funds on farm subsidies. Everyone understands that this is inefficient waste. President Bush tried to cut farm subsidies--and failed.
What a waste--but, I give up, I guess.