Secretary, Chief to speak at Agricultural Outlook Forum

Graphic of leaves next to text: AOF 2020.

WASHINGTON, DC—There’s still time to register for the Agricultural Outlook Forum, which is free to USDA employees. The forum will take place Feb. 20–21 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. This year’s theme is The Innovation Imperative: Shaping the Future of Agriculture.

Aligning with that theme, Secretary Perdue will announce the Agriculture Innovation Agenda Thursday, Feb. 20. The agenda is USDA’s commitment to the continued success of American farmers, ranchers, producers and foresters in the face of future challenges. This department-wide effort will align USDA’s resources, programs and research to provide farmers with the tools they need to position American agriculture as a leader in the effort to meet the food, fiber, fuel, feed and climate demands of the future. USDA will stimulate innovation so that American agriculture can achieve the goal of increasing U.S. agricultural production by 40 percent while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050.

On Friday, Feb. 21, Chief Christiansen will facilitate a panel discussion on Partnerships, Priorities and Water—A Shared Stewardship Approach. The panelists include Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Matt Lohr discussing how NRCS works with agricultural producers and forest landowners to improve forest health and protect source water using available Farm Bill conservation programs, Santa Clara Pueblo Governor Michael Chavarria, who will describe a Shared Stewardship Case study on water quality and quantity on tribal lands, and Western Governors Association Executive Director James Ogsbury discussing an integrated approach to prioritizing investments where they have the greatest impact across broad landscapes.

About 80 million acres of the National Forest System are at risk from insects, diseases and wildfire. About one-third of these lands are at very high risk, endangering adjacent state, private and tribal lands. Drinking water, homes, communities, wildlife habitat, historic places, sacred sites, recreation opportunities and scenic vistas are among the many resources at risk. Strengthening and expanding partnerships around shared values are critical for a sustainable future. The Forest Service Shared Stewardship initiative brings together stakeholders and partners to accomplish mutual goals, further common interests and effectively respond to the increasing suite of challenges facing all landscapes. This session focuses on how collaborative partnerships address shared priorities across political boundaries to achieve outcomes at scale.