From the first day a farmer put a seed in the ground, agriculture has relied on innovation to help us adapt and grow. There’s no such thing as good enough on the farm: we’re always looking to do better. U.S. agriculture has led the way in developing new tools and techniques to drive the industry forward, thanks to our nation’s great innovators.
Each decade and century of American agriculture is shaped by entrepreneurs, scientists and innovative farmers and ranchers who have found solutions to address agriculture’s greatest challenges. When John Deere saw the challenge neighboring farmers in Illinois faced in preparing the soil, he came up with a better way and helped turn the American frontier into fertile cropland with his steel plow. When George Washington Carver looked at the depleted soil of the South, he took on that challenge and introduced new crop uses and rotation methods to restore healthy farmland and benefit farmers and consumers alike. These examples are just a peek at the long history of American agricultural innovation, and today that tradition continues as cutting-edge technology takes us into the next age of agriculture with everything from robotic harvesters and driverless tractors to disease-resistant crops.
Innovations like these allow us to farm more efficiently and sustainably than ever. From precision ag tools and smartphones to soil health practices and biotechnology, we are saving time and resources, reducing carbon emissions and leaving our land healthier for the next generation. And now more than ever, we will continue to rely on innovative solutions to drive agriculture forward.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen farmers adapting to meet changing needs and finding new ways to connect directly with customers in their communities. At Farm Bureau, we also believe in the potential of creative entrepreneurs to take on the unique challenges facing agriculture and our rural communities and to help drive our economy. That’s why we’re partnering with Farm Credit to host the Ag Innovation Challenge for the seventh year. The Challenge has evolved to become more than a competition: it’s a valuable experience for entrepreneurs to learn from each other and industry leaders and access tools to help expand their businesses.
I am amazed every year by the inspiring, hardworking entrepreneurs we meet from across the country through this event, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2021 Ag Innovation Challenge brings out the most innovative group yet. Tough times can bring the most creative solutions, as they give us an opportunity to think differently, to ask ourselves difficult questions and find a better path forward. I believe today’s innovators will carry on the great tradition of American agriculture and rise to that challenge.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.