Legislative Matters: The Future of Agriculture and the Invasion of Technology - What's in the Mixture?
Phone in field

There is a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial spirit in a farmer. It is in their DNA from birth. Most farm families have endeavored to overcome the market or season lows and have lived to fight another day to later feast on the highs of a great crop or market. There have been countless ways that have been invented to make farming more efficient and successful over many years and within a generation. 


Now the changes are coming even faster in all sorts of dynamic ways for both small and large operations. It is that entrepreneurial spirit that leads the charge of overcoming any challenge to make the farm successful. Those farms that keep a mindful eye on the technology changes, then weigh and measure the impacts of adoption, may enjoy a leg up on individual competitors.  


But there is an even bigger picture. The United States leads world innovation as a whole, which makes our country the world leader in agriculture. The existence of an innovative environment, coupled with entrepreneurial spirit, will keep the agricultural economy strong for the next generation. To create the best environment for all of this to come together, requires the right blend of individuals, science, policy and industry will power. All ingredients are necessary to accomplish great change and results.  Technology applied to each of these ingredients will make a big difference.


Reflecting on the application of technology in every aspect of agriculture…ponder these, to name a few:  


Farmer wellness is critical.  Managing risks of farming creates stress and anxiety, and no matter the strength of self-reliance and perseverance, it is a challenge to overcome. Telemedicine with the growth of broadband has demonstrated a key use of that technology. More access to broadband is necessary, for no other reason than connecting to health solutions. There are of course many other reasons to work toward connectivity.


Stewardship of the environment to reduce greenhouse gases and maintain advanced waste management practices is one of those renewable topics that will not go away. Agriculture in the United States has never forgotten the environment and leads the world in technology adoption in this area. It may be solar on the farm, conservation easements, or treatment of soil containments, the farmer has always looked for the adoption of technology to improve not only the business bottom-line, but the environmental rewards.


Genetic mapping to strengthen a commodity for production and consumer safety has not been without volumes of scientific study. The discussion will be ongoing due to a variety of threats to the food system. Beside the gene, there is blockchain development for food ingredient traceability.  The consumer requires whatever technology adoption that will continue to support their ability to rely on the safety of the food system. The United States has led the discussion.


Whether an individual farmer favors being an enterprise business builder or an independent inventor/adopter of technology, both play a gigantic role in the future of agriculture. Both will lead younger and innovative farmers into the growing need to do this important work of feeding a nation.


This accentuates yet another challenge where technology plays a role in the future of agriculture, which is to address the challenges of labor. While there is a vast amount of familiarity of the need for a strong H2-A program, robotics continues to advance and be applied to agriculture. Robotics has found its way into more and more production facilities.  These advanced production tools will make agriculture more interesting to the farmers of the future.


All these technology applications require sound policy to empower these technologies, and to get these policies in place. We all need good policy leaders that will listen to our farmers voices. These voices must remain amplified as they are yet another key ingredient in the mixture for the successful future of agriculture as technology advances. 



To view the article in the online 2020 Fall Partners Magazine, click here

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