While innovation is recognized as an important element for America’s manufacturing and information technology sectors, it also plays a critical role in advancing U.S. agriculture and making our farmers the most productive in the world. This was the theme of Agriculture: Growing Innovation & Opportunities, a conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today in Washington.
Conference speakers cited several innovations in agriculture that enable farmers to grow more food on less land, with fewer inputs and a smaller environmental footprint. These include better soil management practices, improved water conservation methods, the use of GPS technology and other smart applications, better nutrient management systems, and the development, maturation and utilization of agriculture biotechnology crops.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said innovations in crop genetics helped farmers cope with last summer’s drought. “We just suffered through the most serious drought that this country has faced since the 1930s. Had we faced this drought without seed genetics, we would have seen serious crop losses. We still had a corn crop ranked in the top 10 in productivity in U.S. history. And it’s a result of seed genetics and innovation. And it’s a result of farmers embracing new planting technologies that allow us to preserve and conserve water resources and still maintain and provide a crop,” he said.
Greg Page, CEO of Cargill, said next-generation biotechnology advances will not only help farmers better cope with extreme climate events, but provide consumers with more nutritional and healthier foods.
Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau and a corn and soybean farmer, said that while the benefits of biotechnology are clear to farmers, they are not widely appreciated by consumers. He said farmers need to build trust with consumers that regulatory structures are in place to ensure a safe food supply, which are based on sound science through years of research, testing and trials conducted before any food product is commercialized.
The Chamber released a study, Agricultural Abundance: An American Innovation Story, authored by Nick Schulz, Editor in Chief of The American and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, which highlights major areas of agricultural innovation. Read more.