The agricultural importance of land-grant universities was the focus of a recent discussion featuring four former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture. Former Secretaries Clayton Yeutter, Mike Johanns, Dan Glickman and John Block talked about the success of the Morril Act as they looked at the Land-Grant Mission of 2012: Transforming Agriculture for the 2050 World. To feed the growing world population – expected to grow to nine-billion by the year 2050 – Johanns said it will take science, technology and the best of land-grant universities. Yeutter said we’ve got to do everything better than we do it today. He called on land-grant universities to be bold in their research, extension and teaching.
Over the next few decades – according to the former Ag Secretaries – land-grant universities need to strive to increase public-private partnerships, help farmers continue to adjust to climate change and its impact on production, continue to pursue biofuels options and help farmers in the developing world increase their productivity and efficiency. On that last point – Johanns stressed that meeting the needs of 2050 and beyond will require the improved efficiency of farmers around the world. He said American scientists – many of them in land-grant universities – can play a key role in training them to do so.
As a result of the concerns about the expanding population’s food needs – the panelists agreed that the ag sector is positioned to have greater political, social and economic influence. Over the long-term – Glickman said agriculture and food is poised to be a very dominant industry in America.