Here We Go…

What an exciting week here at FFAR! We announced our first two programs at the conclusion of what had been a spectacular Board Meeting and public forum. I can only say, whew! That was some week. Thanks to all who participated in the public meeting. We heard a number of interesting ideas for potential partnerships, programs and how we might develop the FFAR organization. It’s always helpful to get the temperature of the community especially when we are in our formative years as a new organization.

Let me tell you a bit about the thinking behind our two inaugural programs: the New Innovator Program and the Rapid Response Program. The New Innovator Program will fund up to ten outstanding individuals who are early in their faculty careers to pursue innovative research on one or more of the FFAR topic areas. We will provide a substantial award for three years to allow this individual and those who work with him or her to be “unfettered” in their pursuit of great science that will have a positive impact on agriculture or food systems.

The idea is to capture young scientists and keep their work firmly directed towards agriculture or food issues. As you know, scientists, being the entrepreneurs they must be in order to support their programs, often direct their research towards the funding agency with the most funds for extramural support. Thus these scientists, knowing that their chances are greater with larger agencies like NSF and NIH, may redirect their research to meet the goals of those agencies. We therefore are hoping to move the needle, even if ever so slightly, towards supporting those great minds that are most interested in agriculture from the onset and keep them on the agriculture trajectory. And we are going to review them not only for their great ideas, but for their abilities to pay it forward to the next generation of scientists by being capable mentors.

The philosopher Plutarch said “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled” and that is what we hope our New Innovators will do with their students and postdocs: kindle the fires of imagination that will spark new ideas for agriculture in the years to come.

Our authority through the Farm Bill means that we must match each FFAR dollar with a dollar from a donor or partner. For the New Innovator program, we have a number of potential donors lined up but are still looking for others who share our passion for the early career investigator and what their future holds.

Our second program, Rapid Response, is designed to address urgent issues in our agriculture and food systems. In many ways, it is possible because we are a non-profit who doesn’t have all the same constraints that a Federal agency might have when deploying grants or funds. As a non-profit we can move rapidly on both our decision making and funding mechanisms. We believe if an urgent issue emerges that is national in scope, acute in nature and where funds for research and related activities will drive a solution, we can make decisions and issue funds in a matter of weeks. So the decision-making process will fall among a small group of people working in close collaboration with the USDA. In this case, the matching requirement will be a critical element to make or break the program as we must be proactive at attracting the required match so as not to slow down the process.

We are working on the specifics of both these programs and hope to have a Request for Applications for the New Innovator program by the end of the year, and the Rapid Response processes more fully formed during
that same time frame. In the meantime, two more exciting programs will be announced in the very near future that will further define the future of our fledgling organization that is spreading its wings in many different directions.

Hope you are able to fly with us as our new opportunities unfold.

###

About the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit organization established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.

Learn more: www.foundationfar.org Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking

Overcoming Water Scarcity

Overcoming Water Scarcity

Continue

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

Continue

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

Continue

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

Continue

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

Continue

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

Continue

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

Continue

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.