The 2016 edition of U.S. Agriculture Outlook is finally here. Read it online for free.
For many decades, American agriculture has grown, evolved, and improved, and while it continues to do so today, outside pressures are greater than ever and challenges are multiplying as the 21st century progresses. The effects of climate change, a growing global population with increasing food demands, and a dwindling number of farmers are just a handful of the issues facing U.S. agriculture today.
Though the challenges are many, the nation’s agriculture sector is working to address them. In this edition, we look at the continuing growth of soybean harvests – second only to corn in the United States – and how the crop is being used increasingly within the food chain rather than as a fuel source. We describe the efforts of the USDA and state and local programs to find and nurture a new generation of farmers who will be instrumental in growing food to meet domestic and global demand. We examine California’s continuing drought and water crisis, and how farmers are coping.
Technological breakthroughs will no doubt be imperative to dealing with some of the problems facing agriculture today, and growing numbers of agriculture professionals with advanced degrees will likely be at the forefront of such discoveries. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind that sometimes tradition trumps tech: case in point, a “rediscovered” Old World breed of cattle that is more adaptable to semi-arid conditions and scrubby rangeland than more popular breeds and can thrive on much less water in a drier American Southwest.
American agriculture will continue to progress and prosper through a mixture of tradition and technology that has served it well throughout the nation’s history, and will continue to ensure its success in a challenging future.
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