Data, innovation and technology in agriculture are scheduled topics for February's Agricultural Outlook Forum, an annual meeting organized by the USDA.
The meeting, Feb. 19-20 in Arlington, Va., also will include discussion on innovative approaches to improve food safety, sharing market data to assist producers in reaching larger markets, and new technologies in the ag industry, USDA said Thursday.
"Big data isn't just massive amounts of numbers and codes for scientists, researchers and marketers. That information, when interpreted and applied, can help people understand – and change – the world around them. We are discussing how data helps producers of agricultural commodities in adapting their strategies to meet changing consumer demands, marketing practices and technologies," USDA's Ed Avalos, under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, wrote in a blog post.
At the Forum, Secretary Tom Vilsack will moderate a panel titled "Discussion on Innovation, Biotechnology, and Big Data" within agriculture.
Joining him will be panelists Cory Reed, senior vice president, intelligent solutions group, John Deere and Company; Dr. Robb Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer, Monsanto; Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director, congressional relations, American Farm Bureau Federation; and Dr. Robert Sutor, vice president, mobile, solutions, and mathematical sciences, IBM Corporation.
After the plenary panel wraps up, several breakout sessions will explore how big data and analytics are creating new opportunities for farmers and ranchers to improve the efficiency and resilience of their operations, Avalos said.
Participants will also look at the challenge of collecting, processing, and packaging data in a way that transforms data into practical tools for use by farmers and ranchers.
Topics will showcase innovative examples of how new tools using big data will help producers, like remote sensing and risk-management tools, the use of localized and global weather resources, how Market News and other reports enhance decision making, and how producers can adapt production and marketing strategies to meet changing consumer demands, marketing practices and technologies, USDA said.