In February 2020, the US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the Agriculture Innovation Agenda (AIA), a broad-reaching initiative to increase US agriculture production by 40 percent and cut the environmental footprint of US agriculture by half by 2050. This agenda serves as a blueprint to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to meet future global demands.
The AIA has three main components:
- Create a comprehensive US agriculture innovation strategy to align public and private research efforts.
- Integrate the latest innovative conservation technologies and practices into USDA programs.
- Hold the USDA accountable with benchmarks for the following
- Agriculture productivity
- Forest management
- Food loss and waste
- Carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas
- Water quality
- Renewable energy
The USDA requested stakeholder comments on three questions (one with sub-questions) highlighted below as they pertain to the four USDA Research, Education and Economics goal areas (Genome Design, Digitial/Automation, Prescriptive Intervention, and Systems Based Farm Management). The deadline for submitting comments is August 1, 2020.
The request for comments includes the following areas and prompted questions.
- Genome Design -- Utilization of genomics and precision breeding to explore, control, and improve traits of agriculturally important organisms.
- Digital/Automation -- Deployment of precise, accurate and field-based sensors to collect information in real time in order to visualize changing conditions and respond automatically with interventions that reduce risk of losses and maximize productivity.
- Prescriptive Intervention -- Application and integration of data sciences, software tools, and systems models to enable advanced analytics for managing the food and agricultural system.
- Systems Based Farm Management -- Leverage a systems approach in order to understand the nature of interactions among different elements of the food and agricultural system to increase overall efficiency, resilience, and sustainability of farm enterprises.
Stakeholders are asked to respond to the following questions:
1. What agricultural commodity, group of commodities, or customer base does your response pertain to or would benefit?
2. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities to increase productivity and/or decrease environmental footprint that should be addressed in the next 10- to 30-year timeframe?
3. For each opportunity identified, answer the following supplemental questions:
A. What might be the outcome for the innovation solution (e.g., the physical or tangible product(s) or novel approach) from each of the four innovation clusters?
B. What are the specific research gaps, regulatory barriers, or other hurdles that need to be addressed to enable eventual application, or further application, of the innovation solution proposed from each of the four innovation clusters?
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA), and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) held a stakeholder meeting on the USDA Ag Innovation Agenda on June 30. Nearly 200 farmers, ranchers, conservationists, and more from around the US attended the virtual event. Commenters included MOA member Bob Quinn. The MOA Policy Sub-committee has discussed this request for comments and the AIA itself and recognized the very broad scope of this problematic agenda. NCAT, OSA, and NSAC can provide excellent organizational support to make MOA's concerns known and aggregate comments from other organizations as well. The notes on the call can be found ListeningSession-AG-Innovations-Summary As always, these organizations welcome stakeholder comments and want to hear from you.