Commentary: Innovation is anything but business as usual
Albert Einstein once said, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” I’ve tried to adhere to this mantra throughout my life by embracing risk and thinking outside of the box.
American agriculture, too, follows this philosophy pretty darn well. Through innovation and thinking big, U.S. farmers and ranchers have transformed agriculture from mule and plow operations into one of the most tech-savvy and society-changing industries in the modern world.
There’s a popular theory that goes something like this: Failure is not an option--it’s a requirement. Fear of failing dooms us to repeat what others have done, therefore never finding innovation and change. So, if we are going to think big, we will certainly at some point fail big. But it’s these failures that in the end make us better than what we were.
Without a doubt, modern agriculture has had its ups and downs getting to where it is today. In other words, it’s failed big on an occasion or two. But because of that, modern agriculture is at the forefront in technology, leading to greater efficiency and safety. Recently, at AFBF’s annual meeting, former astronaut Mark Kelly talked about the various satellites NASA uses. As he spoke, I couldn’t help but think to myself that farmers also use satellites and other precision agriculture technologies in their line of work to increase yields and reduce chemical use.
American agriculture has employed science and technology to dramatically increase production and choice while lowering prices, but these changes have also altered the experience of farmers and the public in unexpected ways.
No longer are we just producing food for our families; each farmer now feeds 155 people. We are using innovative methods to meet the future global demand of feeding 9 billion people and we are finding breakthroughs in cancer research and eradicating other diseases through the groundbreaking uses of food we produce.
Recognizing U.S. agriculture’s role in the business sector, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is partnering with farmers, ranchers and American agri-business to build a collection that reflects modern agricultural practices. The initiative, called “American Enterprise,” will be unveiled in spring 2015 and will celebrate precision farming, traceability, environmental practices, irrigation, biotechnology and hybrid seeds.
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