Today’s farmers and ranchers are the most productive in the history of our nation. By embracing innovation, farmers of many crops are able to produce more than ever today. Meanwhile, our producers, foresters and rural landowners are undertaking modern conservation practices that help them achieve three to five times the benefits of older techniques.

At USDA, we’re working to support America’s farmers and ranchers in making the next big advances in agriculture and conservation.

First and foremost, we will continue to strengthen agricultural research. In his State of the Union Address, President Obama discussed a critical need to invest in the best ideas. We know that investing in agricultural research helps the economy and strengthens agriculture. Every dollar invested in this research generates $20 in economic benefits for our nation, while giving our farmers and ranchers new tools to mitigate risk and increase production.

We also intend to further strengthen conservation efforts while helping farmers adapt to a changing climate. Over the coming year, USDA will build up additional technical assistance and provide new tools to help producers mitigate the effects of extreme weather patterns. Because the impacts of climate change will vary across the country, we’ll explore ways to organize our efforts by region – with an aim to provide appropriate help for folks in every part of the country.

We will continue to support development of environmental markets for water quality and other natural services, which have the potential to enhance conservation and provide new revenue sources. And we will further explore the benefits of multi-cropping production, which could expand business opportunities, strengthen infrastructure for biofuels and provide additional conservation benefits for producers.

Finally, USDA will take steps this year to support a diverse and vibrant agriculture sector. Starting this month and continuing in the next year, we will follow up on many of the recommendations provided last year by an advisory committee to strengthen coexistence within American agriculture.

Our farmers and ranchers have made tremendous gains over recent decades – producing more than ever before, and taking new steps to protect our natural resources. We can continue this progress into the next generation of American agriculture by making smart investments today. By working together, we can feed even more people around the world, further enhance our natural resources, and create even more jobs.