Ag Tech CEOs Weigh In On Trump’s Pick For Ag Secretary

With President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Sonny Perdue as the new proposed Secretary of Agriculture, it brings a new set of questions as to the broader impact on the future of entire agriculture industry spectrum, including ag technology. Below are statements from the CEOs of TechAccel and Benson Hill Biosystems on this appointment, courtesy of Michael Kellner, Treble Strategic Public Relations.

STATEMENT: Michael Helmstetter, Co-Founder, President & CEO, TechAccel

“The fact is: agriculture touches every facet of American life. We need a leader who can represent a diverse population – much of it under economic stress today – as well as a visionary who can promote policies for healthy development in ag innovation, technology, education and research. Does Sonny Perdue reflect these leadership traits? That remains to be seen. It’s almost too much to ask for. If Mr. Perdue can be a big voice for sane policies across the nation, from coast to coast – not just in the farmland – that’s a win for not just America but the entire global commodities realm.”

“The head of the Department practically needs to be a savant: fluent in economics and trading policy, watching out for commodity markets because those prices drive so much of the industry and economics of innovation. An energy expert who can help shape a market for biofuels and alternative energy sources. A pragmatist on ag labor, covering everything from sensible and fair immigration practices to future ag jobs in a world of automation, AI and robotics. Finally, a food safety expert who will address the great vulnerabilities of the nation’s food security systems.”

“All these skills are just table stakes before we even start thinking about the enormous opportunities for economic growth in AgTech. We’d like to see policies that encourage a balanced approach to gene editing, GMOs and patentable IP, and a way to nurture innovation in ag and animal health.”

STATEMENT: Matthew Crisp, Founder & CEO, Benson Hill Biosystems

“As the new proposed Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue is poised to take the helm of an industry on the brink of a transformation. More is being asked of agriculture today than ever before, and innovation will be key navigating this paradigm shift. The agriculture industry is going through an unprecedented era of consolidation limiting what crops receive innovation, what varieties farmers can buy and which companies they can choose to buy from.”

“2017 brings to the forefront the convergence of big data analytics, cloud computing, and biological expertise opening faster, more cost-effective approaches to enhance the genetics of plants, democratizing innovation opportunities that were formerly accessible only to those few companies with the largest and most well-funded research programs.”

“Given the importance of U.S. agriculture to meet growing food demand while conserving natural resources, it’s crucial that we empower a more diverse community of innovators with the tools to meet the needs of farmers and consumers. The new Secretary will have the opportunity to foster a regulatory and business environment that propels this new era of innovation and creates a robust, competitive industry that benefits us all.”

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