( The Packer )

What kind of innovation is needed to feed x(number) billion people in Y(date)?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking ideas at regulations.gov , and the comment period is open until Aug. 1. 

Here is an explanation of what the USDA is looking for:

“The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is soliciting comments and suggestions on objectives and opportunities leading to research goals and informed product goals to facilitate transformative breakthroughs to enable U.S. agriculture to meet the Department’s goal of increasing agricultural production by 40 percent to meet the needs of the global population in 2050 while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half. This effort is part of USDA’s Agricultural Innovation Agenda, the Department’s commitment to the continued success of American farmers, ranchers, producers, and foresters in the face of future challenges.”


Here are a few of the handful of comments received so far:  

  • "USDA should thrive to support R&D to bring the price of fruits and vegetables dramatically down like it did for row crops in the 20th century so that poor people can afford healthy diets rather than highly processed unhealthy alternatives. Cut the price of tomatoes and grapes by half!"
  • "Accepting the whole crop that is produced into the marketplace, or facilitating that change in industry practice, would increase specialty crop yields today by 33.7 - 42 %, according to two studies of in-field losses (Johnson, et al, 2018; Baker et al, 2019). Additionally, this strategy would not increase the use of land or chemical resources. We should start to examine the potential consequences of this strategy."
  • "I encourage agricultural actions to reduce carbon emissions and sequester carbon to reduce the adverse impact of climate change on human health. Cardiovascular disease is currently the leading cause of death in the US and globally, and results in high levels of morbidity and health care expenditures."


TK: Only ten comments have been received so far,  and they are all over the map, from encouraging conservation practices to bringing the consumer price of produce much lower.

I think the produce industry should have some additional robust ideas related to automation, plant breeding, post-harvest technology and food safety themes. Now is the time. We will need progress to feed X(number) billion people in Y(date).


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