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About Us

We build unique partnerships to support innovative science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges.

Why We’re Here

With 9.7 billion people projected to populate the world by 2050, our food system must evolve. Sustainably nourishing the growing global community demands transformative discoveries from the best and brightest scientists. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research brings together leading experts to identify and investigate the researchable questions whose answers have the potential to enhance the economic and environmental resilience of our food supply.

We know that innovative science cannot happen without collaborative thinking from a strong, diverse, and creative workforce. That’s why we’re working to elevate the visibility of food and agriculture research in the scientific arena. By supporting and spotlighting leaders breaking new ground in food and agriculture, we strive to inspire the next generation of scientists to pursue careers that help put food on every table.

We’re also here to make progress. That means asking the right questions, convening the best and brightest minds to answer those questions, and seeing research through to successful implementation.

How We Work

We welcome you to the table.
Our commitment to inclusivity starts at the issue identification stage. As we finalized our initial research priorities, we sat down with more than 100 groups with a stake in this space to listen to different perspectives on the most pressing issues. We continue to welcome insight from all facets of our vibrant food system: from scientists conducting food and agricultural research, to farmers in the field, to members of the public deciding what to feed their families each day.

We ask the right questions.
We seek researchable issues with the potential to yield pivotal pieces of knowledge that propel the food and agriculture field forward. For each project, we survey the food and agriculture field to ensure we are focusing on research questions that are not being answered elsewhere. We then look at the landscape and decide, project-by-project, how to convene the right partners to address a given issue.

We leverage top talent and diverse perspectives.
To catalyze innovation, we believe we need not only brilliant minds, but also diverse perspectives tackling today’s challenges in food and agriculture. It will take outside-the-box, interdisciplinary thinking to truly transform our food system. When soliciting research proposals or building a team, we strive to include experts with diverse backgrounds and in different fields, and perspectives from different sides and stages of an issue.

We drive results.
Once we embark on a research project, tangible results become our guiding light. To drive socially feasible and economically viable solutions, we seek stakeholder input starting at the research design phase.

Who We Are

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. The Foundation was established by the Farm Bill passed in 2014 and charged with complementing and furthering the important work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Leveraging public and private resources, FFAR will increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population.

To maximize the Foundation’s impact potential, FFAR is committed to complementing and not duplicating existing research endeavors.

FFAR is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors, chaired by former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman.

What We Do

  • Fund cutting-edge research and development through grants and innovation challenges
  • Build unique public-private partnerships
  • Convene stakeholders and thought leaders to foster collaboration
  • Build human capacity and inspire the next generation of food and agriculture scientists
  • Utilize social, physical, and biological sciences to answer research questions

More: Download FFAR 2015 Annual Report.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research welcomes potential research concepts from all sources. Depending on the state of science in your area of interest, your research concept may be primed for pursuit through a competitive grant program, a prize or challenge, or further exploration through a convening of experts. Upon review of the concept for alignment with FFAR’s program development criteria, FFAR may respond in one of the following ways:

» Develop the concept into a competitive research program or prize.

» Incorporate the concept into a program that is under development.

» Should the FFAR staff determine that the research concept does not align with current priorities and available funding, the concept will remain in our database for future consideration. As potential opportunities arise, we may connect you with groups pursuing similar goals. If you would prefer that your interest in a particular area remain confidential, you may opt out below.

Share Here: Concept Portal

Note: This is not a grant application, but rather a way for FFAR to receive concepts to be considered for development into research program areas. Receipt of a research concept does not bind FFAR to launching programs in that area nor entitle the submitter to receive funds from FFAR should a program be launched in that area. For further details regarding the process by which FFAR receives, evaluates, and develops concepts, please visit this page.  Should the FFAR staff be interested in discussing a research concept, we typically respond within 30 days.

Concept Overview: Please provide a high level overview of the research concept and the food or agriculture issue that it seeks to address. (Limit: 200 words).*

Under which FFAR Challenge Area(s) does the concept fit best?*
Forging the Innovation Pathway to SustainabilityFood Waste and LossHealthy Soils, Thriving FarmsMaking My Plate Your PlateOvercoming Water ScarcityProtein ChallengeUrban Food Systems Challenge

Potential for Public-Private Partnership: Please list potential collaborative (non-funding) partners. FFAR will keep this information confidential.

Please list either specific organizations or general types of organizations that have expressed interested in supporting this research concept. (FFAR will keep this information confidential).

Impact: Please describe the concept's potential to yield actionable outcomes that fill critical gaps in the area(s) selected above. (Limit: 125 words).*

Transformation: Please expand upon the research concept's unique potential to transform or advance the agriculture research enterprise. (Limit: 125 words).*

Innovation: Please explain how this approach, concept, or potential operating model is unique. In other words, what are you suggesting that has not been done before? (Limit: 125 words).*

Complementarity: Is the suggested type of research being done elsewhere? If so, please describe how this particular concept would complement existing research. (Limit: 100 words).*

Budget Estimate: Please type the approximate dollar amount using numerical digits only (without commas) in the box below.*

What else would you like us to know? (Limit: 200 words).

Should the FFAR staff determine that the research concept does not align with current priorities and available funding, the concept will remain in our database for future consideration. As potential opportunities arise, we may connect you with groups pursuing similar goals. If you would prefer that your interest in a particular area remain confidential, you may opt out of this potential for "matchmaking" by checking the box below.

No, do not connect me with other potential partners. I prefer to keep my interest in this area confidential.

What happens next? 

  • Please review How We Work for details on our processes, from concept development to program announcements.
  • Join our email list to be kept up to date on future opportunities to engage with FFAR.

About Us

FFAR’s Board of Directors includes 20 voting members, and five ex-officio members designated by Congress. FFAR’s non-voting ex officio members are the stewards of the Foundation’s close partnerships with the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Specifically, these members provide insight into the federal research enterprise and ensure that FFAR’s work complements USDA and NSF research.

Former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman chairs the FFAR board, which also includes current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The voting members on FFAR’s inaugural board were selected from lists of nominees provided by industry and the National Academy of Sciences.

Appointed Members

Portrait of Dr. Kathryn J. Boor

Dr. Kathryn Boor

Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Cornell University
Portrait of Dr. Doug Buhler

Dr. Doug Buhler

Director, MSU AgBioResearch and Assistant Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies

Michigan State University

Dr. Doug Cameron

Managing Director

First Green Partners and Alberti Advisors

Dr. Gail Christopher

Former Senior Advisor and Vice President for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation

W. K. Kellogg Foundation
Portrait of Dr. Nancy Creamer

Dr. Nancy Creamer

Distinguished Professor of Horticulture and Sustainable and Community-Based Food Systems

North Carolina State University

Dr. Debby Delmer

Professor Emeritus

University of California – Davis

Hon. Dan Glickman
Chairman of the Board

Executive Director, Congressional Program

Aspen Institute

Dr. Rob Horsch

Deputy Director, Agricultural Research and Development

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Portrait of Pam Johnson

Ms. Pam Johnson

Past President

National Corn Growers Association
Portrait of Mark Keenum

Dr. Mark Keenum


Mississippi State University

Dr. Mehmood Khan

Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer, Global R&D

Portrait of Dr. Michael Ladisch

Dr. Michael Ladisch

Director of the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering

Purdue University
Portrait of Dr. Christopher Mallett

Dr. Chris Mallett

Corporate Vice President, Research and Development

Cargill, Inc.

Dr. Pam Marrone

Founder and CEO

Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc.
Portrait of Dr. Terry F. McElwain

Dr. Terry McElwain

Regents Professor in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health

Washington State University
Portrait of Dr. Stanley Prusiner

Dr. Stanley Prusiner

Professor of Neurology and Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases

University of California – SF
Portrait of Dr. Yehia “Mo” Saif

Dr. Yehia “Mo” Saif

Professor Emeritus of the Food Animal Health Research Program of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center

The Ohio State University

Mr. Bob Stallman

Past President

American Farm Bureau Federation

Dr. Alton Thompson

Executive Director

Association of Research Directors of 1890 Land Grant Universities

Ex Officio Board Members

Portrait of Dr. Ann Bartuksa

Sonny Perdue

Secretary of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Portrait of Dr. Ann Bartuksa

Dr. Ann Bartuska

Acting Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Portrait of Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy

Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Portrait of Dr. Jim Olds

Dr. Jim Olds

Assistant Director for Biological Sciences
Designee of Dr. France Córdova, Director

National Science Foundation
Portrait of Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young

Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young

Administrator, Agricultural Research Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Now Calling for Nominations

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research seeks outstanding early career nominees for the 2017 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award. Nominees will compete for up to 10 awards, with each awardee receiving up to $600,000 total over three years.

FFAR created the New Innovator Award to help support the next generation of food and agriculture scientists who will spur future innovation to meet the needs of a growing global population. The Award funds promising individuals pursuing research with potential to sustainably enhance agricultural production or improve health through food.


Institutions of higher education, other nonprofit research institutions and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are encouraged to nominate up to two candidates for the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research award. Nominees must be within the first three years of his or her tenure-track or equivalent faculty career. Preference will be given to individuals near the onset of their independent research careers.  To facilitate a single institutional submission, FFAR recommends nominations be submitted through the organization’s Office of Sponsored Programs or a similar central office.


  • Nominations Due: February 28, 2017 by 11:59 p.m. EST
  • Eligible Nominees Invited to Apply: by March 10, 2017
  • Applications Due: April 21, 2017 by 11:59 p.m. EST

Nomination Instructions

The Importance of Supporting New Innovators

• Investing a substantial amount in faculty members within the first three years of their careers will allow them to pursue innovative and transformational ideas uninhibited by the pressure of identifying their next grant.
• Funding early career faculty is one important way to cultivate a creative workforce who will train, encourage, and inspire future generations of agricultural and food scientists.
• This award is an important step in making agriculture an attractive field for aspiring scientists, whose need to “follow the money” often leads them to direct their research away from agriculture.

Meet the 2016 New Innovator Award Winners

Join the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research in supporting the next generation of food and agriculture scientists. 

If you or your organization is interested in becoming a sponsoring partner in this effort, please email Renée Bullion, Director of Development.

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Mission, legislative history, how FFAR operates (public-private partnerships to award grants), staff bios, board bios