USDA Publishes a Five-Year Roadmap for Scientific Initiatives
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the USDA Science Blueprint that serves as the Department’s continued commitment to scientific research and provides a foundation for focused leadership and direction in advancing USDA’s scientific mission through 2025. The publication emphasizes the importance of investments in agricultural science as essential.
The USDA Science Blueprint focuses on five overarching themes: Sustainable Ag Intensification to bolster the production, technology, and management required for the increasing world population; Ag Climate Adaptation to adapt to the changing weather patterns to ensure food security; Food and Nutrition Translation to reduce foodborne illnesses, understand drivers of poor diets, provide better access in low-income communities, and reduce overall costs; Value-Added Innovations to establish new jobs and economic opportunities, and Ag Science Policy Leadership to enhance science-based policy decision making.
“By prioritizing our research initiatives around these themes, it will enable us to best conduct critical, long-term, broad-scale science and spur innovation throughout our nation’s agricultural enterprise, natural resource base, and food systems. We are committed to putting science to work for the American public. We will always strive for scientific excellence and integrity in support of America’s agriculture.” Said Dr. Scott Hutchins, Deputy Under Secretary, Research, Education, and Economics.
Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a press release, “the USDA Science Blueprint will serve as a roadmap to guide our scientific collaboration over the next five years across the Department and with our partnering research organizations.” The USDA Science Blueprint includes the Research, Education, and Education mission area agencies, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the Economic Research Service (ERS), the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), along with the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) and the science arms of the U.S. Forest Service (FS), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Additionally, the USDA is asking for input on the Reimagining NIFA initiative, focused on improvements in the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The four questions asked by Director Scott Angle are; How can NIFA improve the delivery of capacity programs to best support research and extension? What changes should NIFA consider regarding the implication of competitive programs? How can NIFA increase transparency and effectiveness? What steps can NIFA take to enhance customer experience?
Hutchins supports the direction the USDA is heading, stating, “the innovation, diversity, and integrity of U.S. agriculture and the science foundational to its productivity will ensure that American agriculture and food and nutrition systems continue to provide customer service to both producers and consumers in order to do the right thing and feed everyone.”