Worth nearly $620m, the contracts to IBM are spread across for the next five years and will help in modernising USDA’s legacy applications


IBM selected by USDA to modernise conservation programmes. (Credit: Unsplash/Markus Spiske.)

Tech firm IBM has secured contracts worth more than $620m from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide software development services.

USDA selected IBM for its Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) Mission Area in a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) and is spread over the next five years.

IBM is expected to help support USDA in its digital modernisation journey.

Under the BPA multi-award, the tech company will work with the Mission Area in modernising legacy applications supporting the conservation programmes administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Services Agency (FSA).

The contract to IBM follows more than 90 years of co-operation between IBM and USDA across several projects with FPAC, the Forest Service, the Food Safety and Inspection Service and Agriculture Marketing Service.

IBM U.S. public sector and federal market general manager Jay Bellissimo said: “Technology has incredible potential to transform the way governments serve citizens and accomplish critical missions. IBM is proud to have the opportunity to work with the USDA to help achieve higher levels of digital modernization.

“Our team is ready to bring our experience in application modernization to help FPAC deliver modernized systems that assist the conservationists in helping farmers and ranchers reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitats and reduce damage caused by natural disasters.”

FPAC supports US farmers, ranchers and other stewards of private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest lands.

Under its guidelines, agencies implement programmes that are designed to reduce farming risks, conservation programmes and technical assistance and commodity lending and disaster programmes.

A few days ago, the USDA had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to strengthen their partnership on agriculture and earth science research.

The MoU will bring together NASA’s experience in technology development and space-borne Earth science measurements and USDA’s knowledge of agricultural production, resource conservation, food security and safety and forests and working lands.

The two US agencies aim to explore research gaps that are of particular interest to the agricultural community, which could be addressed through new Earth observation systems and technologies developed over the next decade.