In the increasingly data-driven world of 21st-century agriculture access to information is an important key to commercial success.
With that in mind Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is putting a high priority on his leadership of the U.S. delegation to the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture. The conference will be held in Washington, D.C., April 29-30.
The goal of conference participants is to enhance global access to publicly funded data with a relevance to agriculture.
"I am pleased to partner with G-8 colleagues in ensuring that agriculturally relevant data is readily available to users around the world," Vilsack said in a statement released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture March 11. "By making our data accessible and encouraging others to do the same, we will enable collaborations that will spur innovation and increase economic growth around the world,"
According to the USDA, this year's conference is the result of a commitment made at the 2012 G-8 Summit at Camp David, Md. One component of this initiative is an agreement to make more data from G-8 countries - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and United States - available to boost efforts in Africa to improve agriculture. That is important because many parts of that continent have underdeveloped potential for agricultural productivity.
Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA under secretary for research, education and economics and the department's chief scientist, will be an important part of the U.S. team participating in this event. She echoes Vilsack's enthusiasm for this undertaking.
"The U.S. government places high priority on open access to data as a forward-thinking approach to address the global food and agricultural challenges facing us. From replicating new findings to developing applied outcomes, we've seen that international collaboration facilitates much of the progress in agricultural research," Dr. Woteki said in a USDA statement regarding the conference.
She pointed out that delegations from non-G-8 countries including Australia, Brazil, China, India and Mexico have been invited to take part in this crucial conference. The support for this endeavor is becoming very broad-based.
The Messenger applauds Vilsack, Woteki and other key players at USDA for their hard work in developing a game plan for the conference that should prove highly productive. We expect good things to result from this meeting.