New Foundation to Deploy $200 Million to Catalyze Innovation in Food and Agriculture

WASHINGTON, February 26, 2015 – The new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) will leverage its initial $200 million in funding from Congress to solve pressing challenges in food and agriculture, resolved the FFAR Board of Directors at their Board meeting on Capitol Hill. The Board met on February 5 and 6 to refine elements of the Foundation’s operating model and to begin outlining its priority research agenda.

“We are excited about the promise of this new Foundation to advance innovative research on vital issues affecting the lives of all Americans,” said Board Chair and former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman. “FFAR will complement and not duplicate the work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other important partners in the public and private sector.”

The meeting, the second in-person gathering of the full Board, focused on accelerating strategic planning and agreeing on the defining principles that will guide the new organization. The Board also refined key elements of FFAR’s organization structure and operating model, including how and where FFAR should focus its efforts to catalyze innovation in food and agriculture, including through:

  • Funding cutting-edge research and development through grants and innovation challenges
  • Building innovative public-private partnerships
  • Convening other stakeholders and thought leaders to foster collaboration
  • Building human capacity to advance innovation

By Congressional mandate, the Foundation must generate matching funds from the private sector or other partners in order to utilize the $200 million received from Congress. In the coming months, FFAR will solidify its initial research priorities and finalize other fundamental organizational details, with the priority of identifying its inaugural Executive Director. The Board will meet again in June 2015.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research was authorized by Congress as part of the 2014 Farm Bill. The Foundation will operate as a non-profit corporation seeking and accepting private donations in order 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. Leveraging public and private resources, FFAR will increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to boosting America’s agricultural economy.

The Foundation Board is comprised of 15 voting members, and 5 ex-officio members. Seven voting members were selected from lists provided by industry, and eight from candidates nominated by the National Academy of Sciences. The board is chaired by former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman.

The five ex-officio board members, all of whom were designated by Congress, are current Secretary of Agriculture Tom 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.

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