NEED & NERA host successful regional listening session on USDA Ag Innovation Agenda

July 17, 2020

The USDA requested public input from stakeholders on the application of the national Agriculture Innovation Agenda through August 1, 2020. This input will inform the USDA as it works to develop a comprehensive strategy to guide public sector research objectives and inform private-sector product development in order to maximize the U.S. Agriculture sector’s continued ability to meet future demands. NEED and NERA submitted a joint regional response to this request through the Federal eRulemaking Portal . The full text of the public comment is available below.

On July 14th, The Association of Northeast Extension Directors (NEED) and the Northeast Regional Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors (NERA), with technical support from the eXtension Foundation, hosted a virtual listening session for northeast land grant university college deans, Cooperative Extension and AES directors, associate directors, and institutional scientists.

During that facilitated session participants worked together to (1) identify transformational innovation opportunities for the next era of agriculture productivity and environmental conservation and (2) propose approaches to these opportunities with an eye to the public and private sector research needed to support them.

Discussion focused on the particular opportunities and challenges present in the northeast region and the possible application of the four USDA identified “innovation clusters” – Areas of study deemed key for increasing productivity and decreasing agriculture’s environmental footprint:

  • 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.