Rock Talk Returns

I am blogging in my new position as Executive Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. I find it almost too good to be true that I am able to see this new organization through its inaugural years.

What an exciting opportunity for the research community and for agriculture! Authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, FFAR plays a unique role in funding research that seizes on scientific opportunity and is advanced through mutual interest by both the private and public sectors. In other words,partnership is the name of the game at FFAR.

USDA is one close partner and the research we expect to fund here at FFAR will be complimentary to the important research going on at the Department. What is unique is that we are going to find knowledge gaps or other distinct research opportunities where an influx of FFAR support coupled with funds from partners will accelerate innovative science to have rapid benefit. So a critical component of FFAR’s role is to identify areas ripe for the picking (I had to get some agricultural puns in there somewhere!).

FFAR has seven research topic areas where we are exploring ways to engage the community in the broadest way to gather input on potential research questions and programs we want to launch.

Our areas are:

  • Improving plant efficiency
  • Optimizing agricultural water use
  • Transforming soil health
  • Enhancing sustainable farm animal productivity, resilience, and health
  • Achieving a deeper understanding of nutrition and healthful food choices
  • Managing food production systems to enhance human nutritional outcomes
  • Spurring food system innovation

You will have an opportunity to be part of the conversation; it will happen in a number of ways and in a number of venues. As you see our website is quite basic right now but is being constructed quickly to be an interactive site where you can get the latest and greatest from FFAR and learn how we will engage you and you can engage us.

Please also take the time to meet our fabulous Board, chaired by Dan Glickman and composed of incredible thinkers from a broad spectrum of organizations across the food agriculture enterprise. In the past year, they have worked incredibly hard to shape FFAR and put us in a great place to take off quickly.

We expect to launch a number of programs in the coming months so, stay tuned for more from me.

Stay in touch:

Overcoming Water Scarcity

Overcoming Water Scarcity

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Agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Overcoming Water Scarcity Challenge Area addressed water use efficiency in agriculture by developing water conservation and reuse technologies, improving crop and livestock breeds, creating improved agronomic practices, increasing the social and economic tractability of conservation practices and enhancing the efficacy of Extension services.

FFAR’s Sustainable Water Management Challenge Area builds on earlier work to increase water availability and water efficiency for agricultural use, reduces agricultural water pollution and develops water reuse technologies.

Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms

Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area increased soil health by building knowledge, fueling innovation, and enabling adoption of existing or new innovative practices that improve soil health.

The Soil Health Challenge Area advances existing research and identifies linkages between farm productivity and soil health, while also addressing barriers to the adoption of soil health practices.

Protein Challenge

Protein Challenge

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Protein Challenge Area sought to improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability of diverse proteins.

The Advance Animal Systems challenge area supports sustainable animal production through environmentally sound productions practices and advancement in animal health and welfare. Additionally, the Next Generation Crops Challenge Area develops non-traditional crops, including plant-based proteins, and creates new economic opportunities for conventional crops to increase future crop diversity and farm profitability.

Food Waste and Loss

Food Waste and Loss

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About 40 percent of food in the US, or $161 billion each year, is lost or wasted. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Food and Waste Loss Challenge Area addressed the social, economic and environmental impacts from food waste and loss through research that developed of novel uses for agricultural waste, improved storage and distribution, supported tracking and monitoring, minimized spoilage through pre- and post-harvest innovations and changed behaviors to reduce food waste

FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area addresses food waste and loss and supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.

Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability

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Supporting innovation is necessary for sustainable results. Over the last 50 years, farmers have tripled global food production thanks to agricultural innovations. Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability was a 2016-2018 Challenge Area that focused on understanding the barriers and processes that prevented the adoption of technology and research results into sustainable practices.

Urban Food Systems

Urban Food Systems

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The 2016-2018 Urban Food Systems Challenge Area addressed feeding urban populations through urban and peri-urban agriculture and augmenting the capabilities of our current food system.

The Urban Food Systems Challenge Area continues this work and enhances our ability to feed urban populations.

Making My Plate Your Plate

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Making My Plate Your Plate Challenge Area focused on helping Americans meet the USDA 2015 Dietary Guideline recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, including research to both produce and provide access to nutritious fruits and vegetables.

FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.