Skip to main content

Setting the Stage for Innovative Research

Posted by Scott Hutchins, Deputy Under Secretary, Research, Education, and Economics in Research and Science
Mar 16, 2020
USDA Science Blueprint cover
The USDA Science Blueprint provides a foundation for focused leadership and direction in advancing USDA’s scientific mission through 2025.

We’re fortunate to have robust food, fiber, fuel, and ag-related industries in America. Our food is safe, nutritious, and plentiful. Our fiber helps clothe people around the world. And we’re using value-added agricultural products to fuel machinery. However, agriculture is at a crossroads with the convergence of a growing global population, a changing climate, and limited natural resources. Fortunately, USDA science agencies work every day to develop new knowledge, technologies, and applications that help our farmers and ranchers work smarter, not harder.

Research is the genesis for the innovation that keeps U.S. agriculture successful. Since its inception, USDA has used evidence-based research to study trends, collect data, encourage healthy eating, and discover new ways to deliver quality food to our tables. USDA’s in-house scientists at the Agricultural Research Service pioneer research, addressing a wide range of important topics affecting U.S. agriculture, including human nutrition and food safety. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) partners with many universities and organizations to ensure NIFA-funded ag-related scientific discoveries are accessible to communities across our nation. The Economic Research Service informs programs and policies that touch everyone, from those living in rural communities across America to the choices people make at supermarkets in U.S. cities nationwide. The National Agricultural Statistics Service delivers timely, accurate and useful information that in many cases can advance our economy, food systems, and environment.

Recently, USDA announced the strategy to accelerate evidence-based research in the USDA Science Blueprint (PDF, 2.6 MB). The Blueprint guides USDA’s science priorities for the next five years. It isn’t a catalog of every science activity or research focus within the Department. Instead, it provides a framework for coordinating USDA’s science initiatives across the Department. The Blueprint outlines five overarching program themes:

1. Sustainable Ag Intensification,

2. Ag Climate Adaptation,

3. Food and Nutrition Translation,

4. Value-Added Innovations, and

5. Ag Science Policy Leadership.

We’re excited about the Blueprint’s focus and how it aligns with USDA’s recently launched USDA Agricultural Innovation Agenda (PDF, 196 KB), which highlights the Department’s goals of increasing U.S. agricultural production by 40 percent while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050. New technologies and applications help make American agriculture more efficient by keeping costs low and productivity high.

For centuries, agricultural research has produced many innovations that have solved numerous challenges around the world. USDA’s science agencies are committed to propelling agricultural innovation to strengthen and even transform our food and agricultural systems for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come.

Agricultural Innovation Agenda logo
The Agricultural Innovation Agenda outlines how USDA will stimulate innovation to increase U.S. agricultural production by 40% while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050.
Category/Topic: Research and Science