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Open Data for Agriculture Offers Lift-Off for Global Food Security

Secretary Vilsack in Washington addressing the G-8 Open Data meeting.  Secretary Vilsack today kicked off a two-day international open data conference, saying that data “is one of the most important commodities in agriculture” and sharing it openly increases its value. USDA photo by Bob Nichols

Secretary Vilsack in Washington addressing the G-8 Open Data meeting. Secretary Vilsack today kicked off a two-day international open data conference, saying that data “is one of the most important commodities in agriculture” and sharing it openly increases its value. USDA photo by Bob Nichols

The opening day of the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture was action-packed and inspiring. From the moment the doors opened at 7:30 am, the air was punctuated with the sound of languages from across the globe. Scientists, policy makers, and leaders from the non-profit and development community all shared a day of discovery and connection around the unlimited opportunity in open data for agriculture.

Secretary Vilsack kicked off the proceedings with a speech that focused the day. “Data is quickly becoming one of the most important commodities in agriculture,” he told the attendees, and encouraged the sharing of data to magnify its power.  He also compared the digital revolution fueled by open data to the industrial revolution, in that data sharing has the same potential to accelerate development of new tools that will bolster the productivity of farmers around the world. Read more »

USDA Officials Highlight StrikeForce at South Dakota Indian Business Alliance Conference

Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of the Native CDFI, Lakota Fund with USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks at the StrikeForce conference. USDA photos

Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of the Native CDFI, Lakota Fund with USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks at the StrikeForce conference. USDA photos

South Dakota USDA officials recently highlighted the StrikeForce initiative at the bi-annual South Dakota Indian Business Alliance Conference held in Rapid City.  The conference with the theme of, “Building Opportunities in the New Native America,” was a perfect opportunity to announce South Dakota USDA’s focus on increasing partnerships and leveraging resources on South Dakota tribal lands. Read more »

Women Farmers: One Million Strong

In the four years I’ve served as Deputy Secretary, I’ve talked with thousands of women in agriculture – from young women thinking about entering farming to older women who have been tilling the soil for decades.  Each of their stories is powerful on its own.  But taken together, they have been an inspiration to the entire country. And today, we know that there are nearly one million of these stories around the country – nearly one million women farming and ranching on America’s working lands.

A study released today by USDA’s Economic Research Service, Characteristics of Women Farm Operators and Their Farms found that the number of women-operated farms more than doubled between 1982 and 2007. When all women involved with farming are added up – including primary and secondary operators – they are nearly one million strong and account for 30% of U.S. farmers. Read more »