WASHINGTON, November 10, 2014 – The 15 member FFAR Board of Directors held its inaugural board meeting on November 6th and 7th in Washington. The foundation began formalizing the operational groundwork necessary to begin investing in food and agriculture research in 2015.
The board received encouragement and was offered advice from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. He told board members on Thursday that they had a singular opportunity to move the dial on challenges related to plants, crops and livestock.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan., also applauded the board’s mission, saying it became clear during work on the 2014 Farm Bill that something had to be done to increase investment in farm research.
The USDA presented the board with a broad scope of USDA’s current projects, and identified areas of high priority in the Department’s portfolio.
The board also heard from Dr. Maria Freire, the executive director and president, of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), an organization established by an act of Congress in a similar fashion to the FFAR.
The board noted that the FFAR operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-governmental entity, and has received 200 million dollars which must be matched by outside commitments. The foundation intends to operate in a manner that will not be duplicative but supplemental to the USDA and fund innovative research. The board will meet again in early December and regularly throughout 2015 as they develop the protocols to begin investments and research grants in the manner contemplated by Congress when they created the foundation.