Efforts to make agricultural production more sustainable and efficient will require advances in technology, and a highly educated workforce in rural areas where agricultural professions are more prevalent.
The conclusion was made by Gov. Bill Haslam at the Tennessee Agriculture Leadership Forum earlier this week.
As agriculture becomes more high tech, farmers will need to adopt new tools and strategies to increase production to feed a growing population.
“There’s no one silver bullet with this plan,” Tom Womack, director of public affairs for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, said. “It’s going to take all of these things to help us reach our full potential in development.”
Haslam’s strategy to improve agricultural production in the state is to encourage more citizens in rural areas to obtain a secondary education. His “Drive to 55” initiative aims to help more than half of the state’s population earn some type of secondary degree by 2025. The current state percentage is 32 percent and falls lower in rural areas where only 10 percent of rural and farming communities have at least an associate degree.
Haslam released his 10-year strategic plan for agriculture development after his speech at the forum.
The state’s agricultural industry generates $71 billion in revenue annually from producer to consumer and employs 363,000.