From the Ground Up - USDA and Ag Research

Throughout history in production agriculture, farmers and ranchers have been pressed to do more with less, to make larger crop yields with less land in production, and to produce more pounds of meat protein with less rangeland, and they continue to do so.

When you go to the grocery store, virtually every product that’s there in some ways has been shaped by our research and our extension programs.”

Catherine Woteki is the Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The different varieties of corn, wheat, all different kinds of fruits and vegetables, those are the result of years of breeding research, improving them so that they’re resistant to pests, and diseases.”

Dr. Woteki says the research USDA supports results in public goods.

“It’s not the product, because that’s the role of the private sector to take that basic research that we do, the crop improvement research that we do, and then take it that next step to commercialization.”

The USDA views the work they do as pre-competitive.

“It’s also the underpinning of a lot of agriculture related businesses, seed companies and the whole variety of different agricultural businesses build off of this scientific base.”

Investment in agricultural research has remained flat for almost twenty years, and budget cuts in the last two years have been substantial.

“The kind of foundation that we need to be continuing, of scientific innovations to continue our productivity, and to continue the success of our farmers is in danger if we continue on this trajectory, so yes we are in a situation of great food abundance, but I have concerns about the future.”

I’m Kailey Carey, looking at Brazos valley Agriculture, From The Ground Up.

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