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USDA’s New Innovation Initiative


Hello USDA Family,

We here at USDA know that we have a good story to tell when it comes to the success of American agriculture. Our farmers are the hardest working, most efficient, and most productive in the world. They provide a diverse, safe, and affordable food supply to the American consumer and contribute greatly to our economy – all while being good stewards of the environment. At their core, farmers are innovators, and that creativity makes U.S. agriculture successful.

The United States’ open arms approach to innovation allows our farmers to produce more with less. But we know there are challenges ahead. First – to produce enough food and agricultural products to meet the needs of a growing population and match consumer preferences for sustainable products.

And second – to protect the natural resource base on which agriculture depends, for both current and future production. The growing population, the demand for sustainable solutions, and the changing climate all require bold goals and bold actions. So today, I’m announcing a bold path forward for USDA called the Agriculture Innovation Agenda.

Our motto is to “Do Right and Feed Everyone.” But the real question is how do we feed everyone and do right? That question has inspired us to leverage every tool in our toolbox for this strategy.We have challenged ourselves to set goals, prioritize innovation, and hold ourselves accountable. Our overarching goal for the Agriculture Innovation Agenda is to aim to increase the productivity of U.S. agriculture by 40 percent to help meet future demand, while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050. We will plan to do this in four ways:

  • The first component is to develop a U.S. ag-innovation strategy that aligns and synchronizes public and private sector research.
  • The second component is to align the work of our customer-facing agencies and integrate innovative technologies and practices into our programs.
  • The third component is to conduct a review of our productivity and conservation data.
  • And finally, the fourth component is to set benchmarks to hold us accountable. I call this a “scoreboard.”

American agriculture is sustainable – it is environmentally sound, economically viable, and consumer focused. And USDA’s commitment to sustainability is solid and longstanding. This is evidenced by the success of programs dating back over a century and by the measurable results of environmental stewardship efforts embraced by our farmers. But the challenge ahead requires more of us.  

The Agriculture Innovation Agenda is our opportunity to define American Agriculture’s role as a key player in the solution to the world’s challenges. This requires a strategic, department-wide effort to better align USDA’s resources, programs, and research to provide farmers with the tools they need to be successful and to position American Agriculture as a leader in this global effort. We have an incredible success story to tell, and we fully intend to stay on that trajectory as we lean into the future.

I look forward to working with you all on this agenda as we continue to fulfill our motto to “Do Right, and Feed Everyone.”

Secretary Sonny