Op-Eds & Articles

Green New Deal Needs To Include Agriculture Technology

Open Markets fellow Austin Frerick writes on Forbes magazine that when policymakers talk about “green jobs,” they tend to default to examples in solar power, wind and other sources of renewable energy—or perhaps manufacturing and supply chain management. They’re less likely to talk about agriculture.

January 25, 2019  |  by Open Markets
Read on Forbes

When policymakers talk about “green jobs,” they tend to default to examples in solar power, wind and other sources of renewable energy—or perhaps manufacturing and supply chain management. They’re less likely to talk about agriculture.

That’s a mistake. The way we eat and produce food is a significant contributor to climate change. In fact, agriculture is estimated to contribute between 13% and 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Any “Green New Deal” needs to not only enable innovation around sustainable agriculture, but also encourage farmers to adopt new, environmentally friendly technologies.

American agriculture is starting to enter the digital age. For years, agriculture lagged behind as one of the least-digitized of any major industryin America. That’s starting to change. More than half of farmers now use at least one “precision agriculture” tool that harnesses data to improve efficiency on the farm. Investors are starting to talk about precision agriculture as the next big thing in IoT, and the market is expected to more than double from to $7.8 billion by 2022.

I spoke with Village Capital’s Allie Burns about this potential. For example, data-driven tools can dramatically reduce the use of toxic pesticides by tracking insect populations on a farm (see DTN’s recent acquisition of Spensa Technologies), or help farmers monitor water and energy use through sensors and cloud technology (see the example of Wexus Technologies). More generally, they can help farmers grow more food with fewer resources.

This is where the Green New Deal comes in. Burns pointed me to a recent Village Capital and QBE Foundation report that discussed that although farmers have strong incentives to adopt these sustainable agricultural technologies, many cannot afford them, particularly in light of the economic downturn that farmers currently face. With net farm incomes down 50% since 2013, many farmers simply do not have the capital to invest in these cost-saving, environmentally friendly solutions.

Read the full article here.

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