A new U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative announced today, dubbed Agriculture Innovation Agenda, aims to “align resources, programs and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands,” according to the USDA. Although the department doesn’t specifically reference broadband as one of those resources, it would seem highly likely that the initiative – if successful — could fuel broadband usage and deployment.

The initiative sets an ambitious goal of increasing U.S. agricultural production by 40% while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050.

USDA Agriculture Innovation Agenda
In a press release, USDA outlined four components of the Agriculture Innovation Agenda, including:

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  • Developing a U.S. ag-innovation strategy that “aligns and synchronizes public and private sector research”
  • Aligning the work of customer-facing agencies and integrating innovative technologies and practices into USDA programs
  • Conducting a review of USDA productivity and conservation data
  • Setting benchmarks to hold the agency accountable that would measure progress toward meeting food, fiber, fuel, feed and climate demands of the future

The second component referenced above is the one that would appear most likely to involve broadband, as broadband would likely be one of the “innovative technologies.” Increasing agricultural productivity would almost certainly involve precision agriculture and both fixed and mobile broadband are key underpinnings of precision agriculture technology.

USDA provides additional detail about each of the four Agriculture Innovation Agenda components in a fact sheet, including specifying goals to be completed within 12 months for each component.

With regard to the “innovative technologies” component, USDA goals for the year include:

  • Improving internal coordination to facilitate transmission of best approaches among USDA research and program agencies and identifying, customizing and fast-tracking the best emerging innovative technologies to integrate and deliver to our customers through USDA programs
  • Developing standardized OneUSDA processes, including a “fast pass” process for immediate intake and integration of proven technologies
  • Working with existing regional outreach networks and other partnerships to identify innovation opportunities to rapidly integrate the latest technologies into our programs and understand how those technologies can best serve our customers
  • Solicit and encourage development of the best “ready-to-go” innovative technology from the private sector

“We know we have a challenge facing us: to meet future food, fiber, fuel and feed demands with finite resources,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in yesterday’s press release.

The USDA Agriculture Innovation Agenda, he said, is “our opportunity to define American agriculture’s role to feed everyone and do right as a key player in the solution to this challenge.”

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