USDA releases AIA research strategy summary, dashboard

By Erin Voegele | January 18, 2021

The USDA on Jan. 12 released a report and online dashboard that integrates the information collected by the agency last year as part of its Agriculture Innovation Agenda, an initiative launched in February 2020 that aims to help the U.S. agricultural industry meet future global demands.

“This initial report is a culmination of creative minds from across the agricultural community,” said Deputy Under Secretary Scott Hutchins, who leads USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area, and who is responsible for research efforts under the AIA. “Innovation and ingenuity have always been key to solving critical agricultural production challenges and will also be critical for addressing new and emerging challenges on the horizon—and our stakeholders advocated for some truly bold goals. We believe this information and the AIA will create enthusiasm, bridge collaborations, drive constructive discussions, and spark imagination to convey the positive role innovation will play to help solve challenges that face our nation in meeting pressing demands to feed a growing population in a sustainable way.”

According to information released by the USDA last year, the AIA is a department-wide initiative that aims to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. Specifically, the USDA said it will stimulate innovation with the goal of increasing U.S. agricultural production by 40 percent while cutting its environmental input in half by 2050.

The initiative, in part, aims to support renewable fuels, including ethanol, biodiesel and biomass. This includes a goal to achieve market-driven blend rates of E30 by 2050. It also aims to align public and private research efforts, help farmers access and adopt new technologies and practices, and improve data collection and reporting.

The USDA gathered public input on the AIA throughout 2020, including a request for information launched in April seeking public comments on the most important agricultural innovation opportunities to be addressed in the near and long term and a separate request for information launched in September seeking input on the most innovative technologies and practices that can be readily deployed across U.S. agriculture to meet the goals of the AIA.

According to the USDA, the agency collected hundreds of responses through the requests for information and stakeholder-led workshops. The report, titled “U.S. Agricultural Innovation Strategy: Directional Vision for Research,” summarizes the stakeholder input and defines discovery goals that will help address the AIA for the next 10 to 30 years.

The online dashboard was developed to help sort the information collected from stakeholders. The USDA said stakeholders and customers can use the dashboard to take a deeper dive into the data to gain insights on agricultural innovation opportunities over three time horizons, including near-term solutions, longer-term transformational solutions, and next era concepts.

Additional information, including the report and online dashboard, is available on the USDA website.