WASHINGTON, March 13, 2013- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will lead the U.S. delegation at the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture next month in Washington. Conference organizers say open access to publicly funded, agriculturally-relevant data is critical to increasing global food security.

"I am pleased to partner with G-8 colleagues in ensuring that agriculturally relevant data is readily available to users around the world. By making our data accessible and encouraging others to do the same, we will enable collaborations that will spur innovation and increase economic growth around the world," said Secretary Vilsack.

The U.S. delegation will also include Catherine Woteki, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, and Chief Scientist; Paul Weisenfeld, assistant to the administrator of the Bureau for Food Security, U.S. Agency for International Development; Jonathan Shrier, special representative for global food security at the State Department; as well as representatives from the National Science Foundation, Millennium Challenge Corporation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, andNational Aeronautics and Space Administration.

"The U.S. government places high priority on open access to data as a forward-thinking approach to address the global food and agricultural challenges facing us. From replicating new findings to developing applied outcomes, we've seen that international collaboration facilitates much of the progress in agricultural research," said Dr. Woteki. "The G-8 is also pleased to invite government delegations from the New Alliance as well as Australia, Brazil, China, India, Mexico to attend the conference."

The conference, which is set for April 29-30, is the result of a commitment made at the 2012 G-8 Summit at Camp David, Maryland. Organizers say open data is being used by innovators and entrepreneurs globally to accelerate development. At last year's G-8 Summit, leaders committed to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition ‑ including an agreement to share relevant agricultural data available from G-8 countries with African partners and convene an international conference on Open Data for Agriculture. USDA is organizing the event with the United Kingdom, which holds the G-8 presidency this year.


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