Understanding challenges and opportunities facing ag

In a recent hearing the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture heard about challenges and opportunities facing America’s farmers and ranchers.

North Carolina farmer Davon Goodwin says diversification is crucial to the success of many farms, but it’s both a blessing and a curse.  “The more you spread your risks out on the farm, that cost goes up,” he says.  “But when I look at the advantage of diversification, it’s essential to my farm and other farms in my region.”

Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who is also a 3rd generation farmer, says precision technology presents a lot of opportunities for farmers, but the cost is a challenge. “(You’re) doing really good work in precision ag, which is really important,” he says.  “But if you can’t afford it, it doesn’t do you a damn bit of good.  What are you doing in the affordability realm?”

Brian Carroll, director of the Grand Farm Research and Education Initiative, an agtech accelerator based in North Dakota, says over time he expects both the size and the price point precision equipment to decline.  “A big part of what we do is we bring the grower right onto the farm and we listen, understand what those pain-points are,” he says.  “And then bring private companies, innovators, collaborators, and research organizations together to solve those.”

The hearing, chaired by Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin, was held on Thursday.

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