USDA, Not Just an Institution, but a Source of Innovation

By December 16, 2016March 25th, 2017Blog
sustainability innovation

In his essay, “Food and Ag Science Will Shape Our Future,” outgoing United States Secretary of Agriculture (USDA), Thomas J. Vilsack highlights the hundreds of ways food and agriculture science has improved the quality of life and how research and continuing innovation can be expected to continue to make a large impact.

“USDA research has supported America’s farmers and ranchers for over 100 years, helping our agricultural sector respond rapidly and successfully to challenges as they rise,” Secretary Vilsack opened in his paragraph about productivity and sustainability. National efforts to protect us and our resources can be traced back to the early 1900’s, when a series of acts such as The Lacey Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act were put in place to begin a culture of accountability.

In the face of issues such as climate change, human malnutrition, and global food insecurity, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has funded researchers who are discovering ways to save water, grow ravage-resistant crops and make more food using fewer resources. Vilsack points to bees and other pollinator populations as an example.

“When certain pollinator populations critical to the nation’s economy, food security and environmental health began to show signs of notable decline,” he wrote, “The entire Obama Administration sprang into action.” The USDA began taking a closer look at causes for the decline in the 2015 “National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.” But the USDA is not just reactive; a strong effort is geared towards preventative measures.

“We’ve developed online tools aimed at providing farmers with data they can use to manage their crops… Known as ‘Adapt-N,’ the tool makes it possible to improve nitrogen efficiency, thus improving farm profits, while reducing environmental losses.” With today’s developments, farmers can worry less about tomorrow.

With 100 years under our nation’s belt, and hundreds more to go, the USDA is only just getting started.

To read the rest of Secretary Vilsack’s essay, visit: