Automation Tech Creating Opportunities at USDA

Kevin Shaker_65 x 85by Kevin Shaker, AnalystUSDA-farm

Automation technology could help the Department of Agriculture (USDA) analyze and track farmers’ crop sizes, costs and loan applications. But for now, the agency is relying on good ol’ pen and paper for many of these functions. However, things are changing. Streamlining USDA’s systems and operations is now a major priority, with the USDA Office of the Chief Information Officer listing information technology optimization as a key objective through FY18.

This is why we’re seeing automation activity coming out of many of the department’s sub agencies. At USDA, not every agency relies on the same IT capabilities that are distributed from the HQ’s OCIO. To some extent the department is decentralized, with many of its agencies containing their own IT groups with mission-specific legacy applications and systems.

The agencies with the most application development backing process automation are found in the USDA’s service center agencies. They include the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD). NRCS is a good target for vendors interested in business system application development, given that we’re seeing new money funding the expanse of NRCS systems. The other two service center agencies, FSA and RD, have automation requirements for loan systems that are continuing to see FY16 growth. The goal is to make the loan application process as simple and easy for the customer and government employee, minimizing manual data entry.

USDA recently released an RFI for industry solutions that could streamline reporting standards at the FSA and the Risk Management Agency. The Feb. 17 solicitation wants to transition away from manually-entered agricultural information to automated systems that capture data through big data, analytics and geospatial technology. One clue to how these solutions should work is from Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, who wants a tool that allows farmers to approve the data before it’s transmitted.

Need further insight, support and actionable intelligence on USDA and other government agencies? Contact the immixGroup Market Intelligence team today to learn about specific offices and contacts that are most likely to purchase your IT solution.

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