NASA and USDA launch partnership to advance cooperation in Earth science technologies and applications

USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman and NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has launched a partnership that will use Earth science technologies to to help American farmers and ranchers and protect the environment.

June 2, 2003 -- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Ann M. Veneman and NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has launched a partnership that will use Earth science technologies to enhance the competitiveness of American farmers and ranchers and help protect the environment.

O'Keefe and Veneman signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that enables USDA to draw on the best scientific and technical information available from NASA research in Earth observation and systems engineering. The primary purpose of this new cooperative effort is to help increase the production efficiency of farmers while continuing to reduce the cost of production. Earth observation technologies provide insights into climate and precipitation patterns, crop health, airborne particles, and water availability.

"Precision agriculture practices are helping farmers improve productivity while protecting our natural resources," said Secretary Veneman. "This partnership with NASA will make available remote sensing technologies that will advance precision agriculture."

This joint endeavor also spawns information that contributes to interagency cooperation on climate change through the Climate Change Research Program to develop a scientific understanding of the Earth's response to natural or human- induced changes.

Veneman said that such technology would also be highlighted at the upcoming Ministerial and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology in Sacramento, Calif., on June 23-25. Ministers from over 180 countries will discuss and share science and technological innovation in agriculture at the conference.

"NASA is pleased to be part of this worthwhile effort, which will benefit all Americans," said Administrator O'Keefe. "NASA's unique ability to view the Earth from space enhances our ability to anticipate climate change, understand weather and natural hazards, as well as to mitigate and assess the effects of natural and human-induced disasters. The information we provide will allow our partners to make critical, accurate and timely decisions."

An immediate outcome of the new partnership is a $1 million, three-year program to establish Geospatial Extension Programs at land grant universities. Geospatial Extension specialists work closely with NASA and USDA to address Earth Science applications and the remote sensing needs of the agricultural community.

The MOU focuses on cooperation in the following five areas: * Carbon Sequestration for Carbon Management * Environmental Models for Biological Invasive Species * Water Cycle Science for Water Management and Conservation * Weather and Climate Prediction Research for Agricultural Competitiveness * Regional, National, and International Atmospheric Predictions for Air Quality Management

NASA's Earth Science Enterprise is dedicated to understanding the Earth as an integrated system and applying Earth System Science to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards using the unique vantage point of space.

For more information on NASA's Earth Science program, see

For information on the Ministerial and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology, see

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