National Corn Growers Association responded in formal comments this week to USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky’s request for stakeholder input into a new formal Agricultural Innovation Agenda.
NCGA developed a comprehensive process to provide our best understanding of the objectives and opportunities leading to research goals and informed product goals to facilitate transformative breakthroughs. Through this process, NCGA identified a few major concerns coming from U.S. corn growers that primarily boiled down to three key points:
- Their ability to retain or grow profitability;
- Their ability to optimize environmental and economic benefits from implementing conservation or sustainability practices; and,
- Their ability to cope with increasing biotic and abiotic stressors.
NCGA considered not only the innovation needed to reach USDA’s goals of improved yield and efficiency with a reduction in environmental footprint but also how to best encourage the adoption of practices or participation in new farming structures.
“Ultimately, farmers will adopt or participate in something that has been demonstrated to improve their profitability, either through increased income, decreased cost, or decreased time investment,” said NCGA President Kevin Ross. “In the end, the agricultural industry will continue to innovate, and farming will continue to evolve, but to be sustainable, the value of these changes must be appropriated and shared back to the farm.”
These breakthroughs are meant to enable U.S. agriculture to meet the USDA’s goal of increasing agricultural production by 40 percent to meet the needs of the global population in 2050 while cutting the environmental footprint of US agriculture in half. NCGA received more than 500 responses to an electronic survey of U.S. corn growers, as well as participation by corn industry stakeholders and environmental organizations in an in-depth telephone survey. The survey results informed NCGA’s efforts to provide meaningful input to USDA and will be critical to guiding future research.
The Ag Innovation Agenda is meant to identify transformational innovation opportunities for the next era of agriculture productivity and environmental conservation and propose approaches to these opportunities with an eye to the public and private sector research needed to support them. Input from the agricultural and scientific community will help inform research goals with the intent of aligning applications and technologies to best address the goals of the Agriculture Innovation Agenda for the next 10 to 30 years.