Press Release

Welch Emphasizes Importance of Making AI Affordable for Smaller Farms at Agriculture Committee Hearing

Nov 16, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing this week, Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) spoke about how artificial intelligence (AI) is being used by farmers and producers. Senator Welch also inquired about how AI’s potential benefits to soil health may result in higher profits for Vermont farmers and help fight climate change.

“A real concern I have is for the viability of our smaller producers. We’ve got smaller farms in Vermont. And a lot of times, something will come up that—it’s an opportunity for bigger ag when you can spread the cost over time, but for a lot of smaller producers, there is a lot of skepticism on whether they’ll get a return on investment,” said Sen. Welch.

“A lot of our farmers have a lot more confidence in a fellow farmer or some of the folks from the extension, people that they’ve worked with over the years, and they have confidence [they’re going to] understand the dynamics,” said Sen. Welch. “The big question I have about AI is: with the entry costs, how can we do things that are going to help the smaller farms get the benefit of it when they’re just not going to be able to take that risk with the high upfront costs?”

Senator Welch went on to question experts about how the data that goes into the AI algorithms, which is largely generated by larger operations, will make it more difficult for smaller farms with varying business models to integrate and take benefits of AI. He also asked about how AI can help farmers focus on profitability per acre as opposed to yield per acre and how that will benefit farmers’ bottom line and the climate.

To watch a video of the Senator’s remarks, click the image.

To watch the full hearing, click here.