USDA on Wednesday selected 15 board members for the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research, a group formed to leverage public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to boosting America's agricultural economy.
The Foundation was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill. It will operate as a non-profit, seeking and accepting private donations to fund research activities that focus on problems of national and international significance.
Congress also provided $200 million for the foundation, which must be matched by non-federal funds as the Foundation identifies and approves projects.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said the investment in innovation follows other that have developed new products and new procedures important for agricultural growth.
"Studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research creates $20 in economic activity," he said. "We must continue to make strategic investments in research and technology if we are to remain leaders in the global economy."
The research funded by the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research will address issues including plant and animal health; food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources, and environment; agricultural and food security; and agriculture systems and technology.
The foundation's board of directors was chosen to represent the diverse sectors of agriculture. Seven of these board members were selected by the unanimous vote of the board's five ex-officio members from lists of candidates provided by industry, while eight representatives were unanimously elected from a list of candidates provided by the National Academy of Sciences.
Congress mandated that the ex-officio members choose the initial 15 board members from among the lists provided by these two groups. However, new board members now have the option of adding additional members if they so choose.
"Public-private partnerships are vital to the agricultural research community, and this is reflected in the membership of the foundation's board of directors," Vilsack said.
One of the new members is National Corn Growers Association Chairwoman Pam Johnson.
"We're delighted to see the foundation up and running and proud that Pam Johnson will serve on the board of directors," said NCGA President Martin Barbre. "The new Foundation for Food and Ag Research promises to be an important tool for greater innovation in agriculture, especially as we face the challenge of feeding a growing population."
Members of the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research >>
The 15 voting members of the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research are:
• Dr. Kathryn Boor - the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University
• Dr. Douglas Buhler - Director of AgBioResearch and Senior Associate Dean for Research for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University
• Dr. Nancy Creamer - Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Community Based Food Systems, North Carolina State University
• Dr. Deborah Delmer - Professor Emeritus of Biology, University of California-Davis
• The Honorable Dan Glickman - former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, current Executive Director of the Aspen Institute's Congressional Program
• Dr. Robert Horsch - Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
• Pamela Johnson - Chairwoman, National Corn Growers Association
• Dr. Mark E. Keenum - President, Mississippi State University
• Dr. Michael Ladisch - Director of the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University
• Dr. Christopher Mallett - Vice President of Research & Development, Cargill, Inc.
• Dr. Pamela Matson - Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
• Dr. Terry McElwain - Associate Director and Professor, Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, and Executive Director, Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Washington State University
• Dr. Stanley Prusiner - Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Professor of Neurology, University of California-San Francisco and 1997 Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine
• Dr. Yehia "Mo" Saif - Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University
• Dr. Barbara Schaal - Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences and Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
More detailed biographical information for the FFAR Board of Directors can be found here.
The five ex-officio board members, all of whom were designated by Congress, are Vilsack; Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA's Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and Chief Scientist; Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service; Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture; and Dr. France A. Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation.