In an address last month to students of the Peter Kiewit Institute and members of Nebraska’s agriculture industry, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack cited numerous examples of how USDA is meeting President Obama’s challenge to Americans to “out innovate, out educate and out build the competition.”
The Peter Kiewit Institute offers academic programs from both the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Engineering and the University of Nebraska at Omaha's College of Information Science and Technology. Although the correlation between the Institute and the Department of Agriculture may not be immediately evident, Vilsack’s remarks quickly painted a picture of two entities with a common goal — success through innovation and technology.
As agriculture producers continually transform their industry through new seed technologies, biofuels initiatives and precision farming, USDA is right there with them.
USDA’s aggressive campaign to bring broadband technology to rural communities has resulted in improved producer access to real-time information. This technology provides producers with direct access to global markets, offers distance learning capabilities to rural schools and affords rural health care providers immediate access to expert or second opinions from their non-rural counterparts.
Secretary Vilsack added that USDA’s innovative biofuels research and related programs will, “build an energy-secure future for our country.” USDA is committed to researching the ways in which agriculture commodities, resources and byproducts can be utilized to provide alternative fuel sources.
Whether it’s broadband or biofuels, initiatives supported by USDA not only provide food, fiber and fuel for the U.S. and the World, these advancements provide employment for rural Americans. In fact, “Thirty-six billion gallons of biofuels production equates to millions of jobs for rural Americans,” said Vilsack.
In the past year, production agriculture experienced a 34 percent increase in total income primarily because producers have incorporated new technologies; allowing them to produce more commodities on fewer acres. According to the Secretary, it’s because the agriculture industry has fully embraced technological advances that, “There is no one, no one, remotely close to the American farmer in terms of productivity. "Probably the most successful part of our economy today is agriculture," he said.