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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 President of Mississippi State University Mark Keenum.

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
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Sally Rockey, Ph.D.

Executive Director, FFAR

The pace of technology is absolutely breathtaking because we have this combination of understanding how things work coupled with new technologies. For agriculture, we want to take advantage of not only the increases to our knowledge base but also this technological pace.”

Excerpt from Heurmann Lecture by Sally Rockey, Ph.D.
seen at left being recognized for her lecture by Ronnie Green, Ph.D., then Chancellor-elect of University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Mark Keenum, Ph.D.

Image of Dr. Mark Keenum

President, Mississippi State University

“I am very proud to have been part of the startup of this organization from day one and I commend the full board for giving their time and energy to something that is bigger than all of us. I look forward to working with my esteemed colleagues to continue building on the extraordinary progress we have made to create the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.”

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.

The FFAR Board of Directors includes 19 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.

Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum chairs the FFAR board, which includes the current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

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
Portrait of Dr. Doug Buhler

Dr. Doug Buhler

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

Dr. Doug Cameron

Managing Director

Dr. Gail Christopher

Former Senior Advisor and Vice President for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation
Portrait of Dr. Nancy Creamer

Dr. Nancy Creamer

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

Dr. Debby Delmer

Professor Emeritus

Hon. Dan Glickman

Past Chair
Executive Director, Congressional Program

Dr. Rob Horsch

Deputy Director, Agricultural Research and Development
Portrait of Pam Johnson

Ms. Pam Johnson

Past President
Portrait of Mark Keenum

Dr. Mark Keenum

Chairman of the Board

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
Portrait of Dr. Christopher Mallett

Dr. Chris Mallett

Corporate Vice President, Research and Development

Dr. Pam Marrone

Founder and CEO
Portrait of Dr. Terry F. McElwain

Dr. Terry McElwain

Regents Professor in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health
Portrait of Dr. Stanley Prusiner

Dr. Stanley Prusiner

Professor of Neurology and Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases
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

Mr. Bob Stallman

Past President

Dr. Alton Thompson

Executive Director

Ex Officio Board Members

Portrait of Dr. Ann Bartuksa

Sonny Perdue

Secretary of Agriculture
Portrait of Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy

Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Portrait of Dr. Jim Olds

Dr. Jim Olds

Assistant Director for Biological Sciences
Designee of Dr. France Córdova, Director
Portrait of Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young

Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young

Administrator, Agricultural Research Service


Meeting and sustaining the growing global demand for food will require a scientific workforce committed to innovating the way food is grown, processed, and distributed. 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.

The New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award is designed to provide the early investment needed to launch new faculty members into successful scientific careers in food and agriculture. 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. The New Innovator Award seeks to promote career advancement of highly creative and promising new scientists who intend to make a long-term career commitment to research in food and agriculture and bring innovative, ground-breaking research initiatives and thinking to bear on problems facing food and agriculture.

Learn More

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