As RMF continued to look at opportunities to broaden understanding of agriculture when viewed in its broadest contest and to enhance the acquisition of scientific knowledge, RMF saw an opportunity to showcase the good work done through the collaboration of USDA, other federal agencies, and their various partners. Therefore, RMF joined with the Farm Foundation NPF and five scientific societies to organize the Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, and Natural Resource R&D Round Table: Research Partnerships Yield Greater Societal Returns. The objectives of the round table were to (1) raise the profile of agriculture, food, and natural resources related R&D throughout the federal government and beyond and (2) highlight the characteristics of highly productive collaborations in order to enhance future collaborations. Sixty-one cases, financially supported by over 20 different federal agencies, were nominated from which eight exemplary cases were selected for presentation and six additional cases were selected for special recognition. These presentations were integrated with presentations of top level science administrators in the presence of representatives from 14 different federal agencies and eight scientific organizations. Catherine Woteki, Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, USDA, and Shere Abbott, then Associate Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, The Executive Office of the President, were featured speakers.
Drs. Woteki and Ms. Abbott emphasized at the round table that robust agricultural and natural resources R&D enterprises are essential to address the world’s most critical problems and Woteki reported that USDA, the federal government’s primary food and agriculture R&D agency, is taking advantage of expanded partnerships throughout the federal government, as well as with universities, state agencies and private sector. A National Science Foundation representative cited six key benefits of partnerships: sharing of knowledge/expertise, exposure to diverse perspectives, leveraging scarce resources, building on long-term investments, and developing a shared vision for the future. The 14 cases featured at the round vividly demonstrated the benefits of collaborations. These cases involve the animal genomes, human nutrition, food safety, pest control, agricultural production and water management, forestry, natural resource conservation, wildland restoration, and biofuels. In addition to demonstrating benefits, these cases epitomized the kind of collaboration that brings together the best ideas to maximize the return on public investments in R&D. The cases also demonstrated the kind of leadership needed to produce even greater innovations in the future. To view the proceedings of the round table click here.
The breadth of involvement in food, agriculture, and natural resources R&D throughout the federal government clearly demonstrated a broad interest in agriculture, food, nutrition, and natural resources R&D and provided substantial evidence that there are opportunities to further enhance the productivity of R&D through additional collaborations.