July 22, 2013

Agribusiness Virtual Roundtable–Dr. Ronnie Green


*The Business Leaders "Virtual Roundtable" discussion was gathered for the Spring 2013 CornsTalk publication. The responses of these business associates were consolidated for the publication, but you can find the full responses through this blog series.

RonnieGreenDr. Ronnie Green, Vice President, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska

Harlan Vice Chancellor, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

How does Nebraska’s strength in agriculture – and corn, livestock and ethanol specifically – influence your business/organization? How does the fact that you are located in Nebraska provide a competitive advantage or growth opportunities for you?

Few other states ‘have it all’ when it comes to agriculture. The eastern part of our state at an elevation of 1,000 feet is great for growing corn, soybeans, sorghum, and alfalfa. The Great Plains provide ideal growing conditions for wheat and Western Nebraska’s elevation of 5,000 feet is perfect for dry edible beans, potatoes, and sugar beets. Nebraska is truly a natural living laboratory with more than 45 million acres of farmland, the world’s largest aquifer, and over six million cattle.

In the University of Nebraska’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources we are all about people, and the food, water and natural resources, and renewable energy that sustain them. Being located in Nebraska, the global epicenter of food production, allows us the unique opportunity to play a leading role in feeding the world’s people sustainably.

What should Nebraska do to leverage its strength in agriculture to enhance economic vitality across the state – and position the state for long-term success in meeting global demand for food, feed and fuel?

Providing enough food to feed 9+ billion people in 2050 is a daunting task. One of the key elements in serving a growing population is combining the momentum of all individuals who are passionate about seeing our agriculture industry and natural resource areas innovate and improve daily. We need to be aggressive in our development of new and improved technologies and management practices to continue to increase in our efficiency, sustainability, and profitability of agricultural production and combine those efforts with enhancements in the food supply chain to improve human health and quality of life. Lastly, we need to be innovative in how our balance of conversion of natural resources into food and fuel can be complementary to long-term environmental stewardship – with soil and water quantity and quality at the head of that list.

What do you think Nebraska consumers – especially those in urban areas – need to better understand about Nebraska agriculture and your organization’s relationship to agriculture?

There has never been a greater need for what we do to better feed, clothe, and sustain a healthy and growing world of people and our land and natural resource systems.  The technologies we have available today, and the enhanced management and conservation practices commonly employed, make a significant difference. We must continue to elevate our investments in agricultural research, education, and extension to continue to make these innovations come to life.

There is no place at the moment where it is more exciting to be a part of the Land Grant university mission than Nebraska.  Our research expenditures are up over 20%, private giving is at an all-time high, our 4-H program continues to lead the nation with one in three youth participating in 4-H, Nebraska FFA is thriving and currently boasts a national officer, and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources reached an all-time high in enrollment with over 3,000 students, the 8th consecutive year of growth. Plus, we recently announced 36 new faculty positions within IANR. We are truly on our way to being the top agricultural and natural resources program in the world.

How important is it that Nebraska corn farmers continue to invest in the future of their industry through their check-off?

Check-off dollars are vitally important for the continued investment in research and development of grain production and utilization. Improvements in research benefit both the producer and the consumer of grain products. Increased funding for research will always be a good return on investment. This is such a wise investment for corn growers, that it would be great to see continued growth in the check-off program funding levels to address the needs ahead.

What concerns you most about the future of agriculture in Nebraska? And what will it take to address those concerns?

Attracting and retaining the best and brightest individuals in agriculture is of greatest concern. The competition for talent is fierce and we must find ways to make it possible, and attractive, for future generations to be involved in all aspects of agriculture.

Water use efficiency is another area where we must continue to advance. The University of Nebraska, through the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute, is bringing focus and momentum to leading global efforts in learning how to maximize the use of every drop of water in growing more food for an increasing world population with less available water.

Securing a healthy policy environment for profitable and sustainable animal agriculture is also of utmost importance. Today’s livestock farms and ranches in Nebraska possess the capacity to convert a wide range of grasslands and feed sources in the delivery of nutrient-rich food for human consumption. We must find new ways to increase the effectiveness of that delivery. Never before has the importance of animal agriculture been greater, or the challenge been greater in need to innovate the industry under a very different economic scenario.

Any other comments or perspectives regarding Nebraska agriculture that you wish to share?

In a nutshell – “ag is the new sexy and the University of Nebraska knows it”.

No comments:

Post a Comment