Small Business Committee Examines Innovations in Agriculture Technology
Washington, January 9, 2020
Tags: Rural America
WASHINGTON – Today, the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development heard from a panel of experts about the impact of agriculture technology (ag-tech) on the nation’s agriculture and food systems.
“Having spent time working on our family’s farm myself, I understand the impact farmers have on their community and our nation,” said Ranking Member Troy Balderson (R-OH). “On the farm, [agriculture] technologies can increase productivity, reduce waste, and boost profits. On a larger scale, ag-tech entrepreneurship activity is boosting rural revitalization efforts by attracting startups, jobs, and investment dollars to agricultural regions. Given the diversity of technologies involved, ag-tech attracts entrepreneurs and investors from various industries and geographies. As we observe the astounding growth and impact of ag-tech ventures, we cannot lose the focus on the primary stakeholders, our farmers.”
Tech Provides Vital Data and Improved Operation Management
“If you have designed something that really solves a farmer’s problems… it is a whole lot easier to get to that adoption,” said Dr. Douglas Jackson-Smith, Professor and Assistant Director, School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, in Wooster, OH. “When we design solutions… in partnerships with farmers, we are going to find the end of convincing people, of telling people, and educating them is no longer going to be the barrier.”
“No sector has a higher percentage of small business ventures than agriculture… and no small business is more challenging than agriculture,” said Dr. David Potere, Head of GeoInnovation, Indigo Agriculture, in Boston, MA. “It is hard to be small in the food system, and at Indigo we believe that technology is a part of the solution to making farming… and that small business opportunity a more valuable profession.”
“Prior to the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) revolution, sensors were not generally connected to the internet and as a result, data was gathered manually, normally by the grower, when time permitted. Now, sensors are being connected to the internet and data is being made available in near-real-time,” said Mr. Kevin M. France, President and CEO, SWIIM System, Ltd., in Denver, CO. “Growers need better access to this game changing technology in order to sustain our agricultural economy in the face of ever increasing water shortages.”
“We’ve been lucky in our context in rural Bennett that we have incredible fiber optic connections. It’s an essential part of our business model because we are able to create a niche for ourselves in a market for ourselves through the use of communication platforms by educating consumers about our product and connecting them with our food source,” said Mr. Roberto Meza, Co-Founder and Farmer, Emerald Gardens, in Bennett, CO. Mr. Meza testified on behalf of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.