Food and Agriculture Industry Stakeholders Address FFAR Board

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Board of Directors and staff welcomed input from eleven groups whose representatives spoke at the Foundation’s first public board meeting session.

Those who answered the Board’s invitation to speak at the October 28 session were invited to prepare a three-minute address with input on FFAR’s research target areas and other ideas and insights regarding how the Foundation might be most effective going forward.

Remarks focused on areas of agriculture research with pressing research needs and opportunities, including mitigating antibiotic resistance, preventing obesity through nutrition, protecting pollinators, organically controlling weeds, developing new weed management technologies to address herbicide resistance issues, understanding the animal gut microbiome, and other topics.

Brian Steffenson, Professor and Lieberman-Okinow Endowed Chair of Cereal Disease Resistance at University of Minnesota, said on behalf of the Stakman-Borlaug Center, that “Crop wild relatives represent a virtual treasure trove of valuable alleles for breeding, yet thousands of accessions reside, under-utilized, in gene banks in the U.S. and abroad.”

Steffenson suggested that FFAR work to capture genetic diversity for plant health improvement and enhanced crop productivity through genomics, phenomics, and informatics; he also underscored the need for crisis response in the face of sudden threats to plant health.

Speakers also reinforced the need for new ways of thinking and unique public-private partnerships as well as the importance of seeing research through to implementation.

Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of the Purdue University College of Agriculture, recommended that FFAR look to make a long-term impact by investing in large-scale, interdisciplinary projects with potential to serve as a platform for launching new approaches to key questions or removing barriers to waves of innovation.

“Ultimately, you have the opportunity to help build research platforms that will launch the path-breaking science we need to address the production, nutrition, and environmental challenges of a growing world,” said Akridge.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research staff and board express their sincere thanks to all those individuals who participated in the session and look forward to continued opportunities for engagement with stakeholders and experts in the food and agriculture arena.

View remarks from guest speakers

Read Dr. Rockey’s post-board meeting blog post.

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