Keeping agriculture thriving is the goal
USDA stimulates scientific advancement and promotes innovation
Getting ready for tomorrow is a key to success in any long-term endeavor. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture has long had an eclectic array of programs that stimulate scientific research and technological innovation that has potential to benefit farms and ranches.
Each year the USDA produces a Technology Transfer Report. The most recent incarnation of this hefty document was released in late June. According the department, this report to the nation is intended to share news about innovations from scientists and researchers that are proving a boon not only farmers and ranchers, but also have created opportunities for American businesses.
“Long before anyone ever coined the modern-day phrase of ‘technology transfer,’ it was part of the culture at USDA to deliver solutions to the people of America,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in his statement accompanying the report’s release. “Today, USDA is still helping to drive technological innovation – both on the farm and off. Studies show that every dollar invested in agricultural research returns $20 to our economy. Innovations produced by USDA scientists and through public-private partnerships add value to American agriculture and the U.S. economy, create jobs and help American producers compete in the global marketplace.”
The breadth of the USDA’s support for research and innovation is exceptionally broad. In fiscal year 2018, its own laboratories generated 320 new inventions along with 471 licenses, 120 patent applications and 67 patents were approved.
Here are a few of the innovations highlighted by the USDA that have the potential to be of direct or indirect benefit to the Hawkeye State:
• A bio-based insect repellent to ward off blood-sucking insects that cost the cattle industry more than $2.4 billion annually.
• A system for removing nitrate from contaminated water and recycling it for re-use as fertilizer.
• A vaccine against Streptococcus suis that may markedly improve the health and welfare of pigs while reducing the use of antibiotics.
• A way to use gene editing as a tool to engineer an African swine fever vaccine.
• A soy-based resin that could replace traditional anti-fouling boat paint without containing copper that can accumulate in underwater environments.
The research the USDA conducts itself or supports with targeted funding helps make American agriculture the envy of the world. These important initiatives deserve continued support and warrant the hearty applause of all Americans. They help keep the United States an agricultural trendsetter.