USDA Highlights Technology as the Driving Force Behind Agricultural Productivity Growth

Technological advancements in agriculture have played a pivotal role in sustaining output growth without a substantial increase in inputs, according to recent findings from the USDA. Innovations spanning animal and crop genetics, chemicals, equipment, and farm organization have significantly contributed to a nearly threefold increase in total agricultural output from 1948 to 2021.

Over this period, there has been a slight decline in the amount of inputs utilized in farming, underscoring the fact that long-term agricultural output growth relies on advances in total factor productivity (TFP). TFP measures the efficiency with which inputs (such as land, labor, capital, and intermediate inputs) are transformed into agricultural output. Essentially, it serves as an indicator of positive changes in the production process’s efficiency and reflects technical advancements.

The study emphasizes that, contrary to short-term variations influenced by unpredictable events like adverse weather conditions, the growth in total output and estimated TFP growth over the long term is attributed to technological advancements. Even in the most recent calculation period (2020-21), agricultural output continued to grow, driven entirely by TFP growth, despite a reduction in the quantity of inputs used in farming.

This data underscores the transformative impact of technology on agriculture, paving the way for increased efficiency and sustainability. As technological advancements continue to shape the landscape of farming practices, the USDA encourages ongoing support for research and innovation to further enhance productivity and resilience within the agricultural sector.