WASHINGTON — To further the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) work on the Agriculture Innovation Agenda (AIA), USDA announced it is seeking public and private sector input on the most important innovation opportunities to be addressed in the near and long term. Using input provided, USDA will identify common themes across the agriculture customer base to inform research and innovation efforts in the Department, the broader public-sector, and the private sector.
“Even during this uncertain time, we recognize our work at USDA is twofold: to meet the immediate needs of our customers in this national health emergency and to support American agriculture in the face of future demands. To do this, we are taking a page from our farmers’ playbook to remain resilient and to keep an eye to the horizon,” said Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky. “We know now, more than ever, it is important to double down on innovation in order to support farmers, ranchers, and producers as they work to increase productivity while conserving our natural resource base. Although current dynamics have shifted, our focus remains on positioning American agriculture to be a part of the solution to future demands.”
“Bold and transformative innovation is needed to meet future agricultural production demands,” said Deputy Under Secretary Scott Hutchins, who leads USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area. “We intend to work collaboratively with both the agricultural community and the broad innovation community to align on the most important opportunities. By working together, we can transform our nation and leave our world in a much better state for generations to come.”
USDA is currently accepting public comments and written stakeholder input through its Request for Information (RFI) (PDF, 257 KB) through August 1, 2020 following its publication in the Federal Register.
Respondents are asked to identify transformational innovation opportunities for the next era of agriculture productivity and environmental conservation and propose approaches to these opportunities with an eye to the public and private sector research needed to support them. Input from the agricultural and scientific community will help inform research goals with the intent of aligning applications and technologies to best address the goals of the Agriculture Innovation Agenda for the next 10 to 30 years.
Based on stakeholder input from the RFI, USDA will develop a comprehensive U.S. agriculture innovation strategy that it intends to release by the end of this year.
This effort, led by Dr. Hutchins, is a core part of the Agriculture Innovation Agenda, a department-wide initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. Specifically, USDA will stimulate innovation so that American agriculture can achieve the goal of increasing production by 40 percent while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050.
Background on USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda:
The Agriculture Innovation Agenda is comprised of four main components. The first component is to develop a U.S. agriculture innovation strategy that aligns and synchronizes public and private sector research. The second component is to align the work of our customer-facing agencies and integrate innovative technologies and practices into USDA programs. The third component is to conduct a review of USDA productivity and conservation data. USDA already closely tracks data on yield, but on the environmental side, there’s some catching up to do. Finally, USDA has set benchmarks to hold us accountable. These targets will help measure progress toward meeting the food, fiber, fuel, feed, and climate demands of the future. Some of the benchmarks include:
- Agricultural Productivity: Increase agricultural production by 40 percent by 2050 to do our part to meet estimated future demand.
- Forest Management: Build landscape resiliency by investing in active forest management and forest restoration through increased Shared Stewardship Agreements with States.
- Food loss and waste: Advance our work toward the United States’ goal to reduce food loss and waste by 50 percent in the United States by the year 2030.
- Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas: Enhance carbon sequestration through soil health and forestry, leverage the agricultural sector’s renewable energy benefits for the economy, and capitalize on innovative technologies and practices to achieve net reduction of the agricultural sector’s current carbon footprint by 2050 without regulatory overreach.
- Water Quality: Reduce nutrient loss by 30 percent nationally by 2050.
- Renewable Energy: We can increase the production of renewable energy feedstocks and set a goal to increase biofuel production efficiency and competitiveness to achieve market-driven blend rates of 15% of transportation fuels in 2030 and 30% of transportation fuels by 2050.
Read more about the Agriculture Innovation Agenda (PDF, 196 KB) here.
Secretary Perdue announced via a Prezi Presentation the Agriculture Innovation Agenda at USDA’s 2020 Agriculture Outlook Forum on February 20th. The theme of the 2020 Outlook Forum was “The Innovation Imperative: Shaping the Future of Agriculture.” Several plenary panels and breakout sessions focused on the central role science and innovation play in driving future growth and addressing challenges facing farmers.