US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced 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, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will stimulate innovation so that American agriculture can achieve the goal of increasing production by 40% while cutting the environmental footprint of US agriculture in half by 2050.
The first component of the Ag Innovation Agenda is to develop a US ag-innovation strategy that aligns and synchronizes public and private sector research. Research areas of focus include genome design; digitalization and automation; prescriptive intervention; and systems-based farm management.
The second component is to align the work of USDA 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; these targets will help measure progress toward meeting the food, fiber, fuel, feed, and climate demands of the future.
The benchmarks include:
Food loss and waste: Advance our work toward the United States’ goal to reduce food loss and waste by 50% 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: Increase the production of renewable energy feedstocks and 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.
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor praised USDA’s initiative and its recognition of the role that homegrown biofuels have in achieving the department’s goals:
We applaud USDA for setting these clear goals for E15 and E30, and Growth Energy’s members are ready to deliver ahead of their timetable. Biofuels are a critical piece of meeting the demands of our future transportation needs while lowering our carbon footprint. Today’s recognition by USDA and Secretary Purdue’s unwavering support will help drive biofuel innovation in the coming years and decades. We look forward to continuing our longstanding working relationship with USDA to ensure that Americans across the country have expanded access to cleaner fuels like E15 and E30 at the pump.