“Northeast Agenda” is a call to action for Extension and Agricultural Experiment Stations

January 17, 2024

Northeast Agenda (Full Version)

Northeast Agenda (Executive Summary)

The Northeast Agenda is a collaboration between the Association of Northeast Extension Directors (NEED) and the Northeastern Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors (NERA). It identifies challenges and opportunities for the Northeast region’s Land-grant programs as they work together to ensure a regenerative, livable, and vibrant Northeast United States.

We invite you explore the Agenda (linked above) and to engage with us. The Northeast Agenda committee seeks participation, collaboration, and investment. Please contact us if you have questions or want to join in this work.

The Northeast Agenda is a living, evolving document identifying numerous challenges affecting our region and work. We hope it galvanizes our regional institutions, colleagues, and communities to create a prospectus of collaboration and investment opportunities.

Northeast Region has approximately 25 million acres of agricultural land (167,000 farms). From a national perspective, the Northeast accounts for approximately 4.3 percent of total U.S. crop cash receipts and 6.3 percent of total U.S. animal and animal product cash receipts. That translates to a contribution of more than $19 billion to the U.S. agricultural economy. Although the average farm size is only 133 acres (compared to the US average of 445 acres); the productivity of those farms is high. Northeast farms generate about 2.5 times as much income per acre than farms elsewhere in the United States. NE farmers use their resources efficiently.

The Northeast Agenda gives special attention to:

  • Innovative agriculture.
    • Urban agriculture and organic agriculture).
    • Specialty crops.
    • Agricultural technologies.
    • Controlled-environment agriculture.
    • Aquaculture.
  • Conventional production agriculture.
  • Cultivating the next generation of our agricultural workforce.

Climate-related stresses influence changes in inter- and intra-state demographics, the extent of urban sprawl, what can be successfully grown when and where, and the spread of pests. These food-system stressors are compounded by labor shortages, land costs, and numerous other business-related hurdles. These conditions call for developing and implementing new climate-smart technologies and/or repurposing existing technologies to new uses for climate-adaptive and climate- resilient farming.

NEED and NERA envision a Northeast that is looked to as the leading example of how climate adaptation and mitigation can be simultaneously and effectively achieved.

The Northeast Agenda gives special attention to:

  • Climate and extreme weather.
  • Water quantity and quality.
  • Coastal resilience.
  • Invasive pest migration and expansion.

The Northeast region is the most densely and diversely populated region in the United States and has the largest number of small and medium-sized farms. Those farms represent a broad, highly differentiated portfolio of crop and livestock activities and abundant assorted forestry activities areas that together provide both economic and recreational opportunities.

Extension and agricultural research must understand and respond to this high degree of diversity to help producers and communities strategically, responsibly, and resiliently align food and natural resource production systems. We also must work to ensure equitable access to these resources across all socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic aspects of the Northeast’s population.

Developing and delivering science-based solutions that meet the challenge will enable people in all Northeast communities to improve their health and well-being while securing environmental sustainability for future generations.

The Northeast Agenda gives special attention to:

  • Community Health/One Health.
  • Nutrition and physical activity.
  • Sustainable agriculture.
  • Biodiversity.
  • Food safety.
  • Recreation and tourism.