Established by Government Leaders

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research was established as part of the Agricultural Act of 2014, known as the Farm Bill, championed by Senator Debbie Stabenow, then Majority Leader of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Senator Pat Roberts, then Ranking Member of the Committee. The premise of FFAR’s formation was that increased investment in innovative partnerships and cutting edge research and development would be critical to nourishing a growing global population. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research was created to support food and agriculture research, foster collaboration, and advance and complement the mission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Read the legislative language that established FFAR here.

After the Farm Bill was signed into law, Secretary Vilsack and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began building the Foundation from the ground up.

The Foundation was established with $200M to invest in research and charged with leveraging those funds with equal or greater matching non-federal dollars.

On July 15, 2014, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research was officially incorporated.

Inaugural Board of Directors

The Farm Bill specified five ex-officio board members of the Foundation:

  • Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, USDA
  • Cathy Woteki, Chief Scientist, USDA
  • Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator, Agricultural Research Service, USDA
  • Sonny Ramaswamy, Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA
  • France Córdova, Director, National Science Foundation

The individuals who succeed the above government officials in those positions are automatically appointed as ex-officios on the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Board of Directors as per the 2014 Farm Bill.

An essential piece of the USDA team’s efforts was soliciting nominations and recruiting the voting members of Foundation’s inaugural board of directors. As per the Farm Bill, names were solicited from both industry and the National Academy of Sciences. From hundreds of names, the USDA selected a dedicated, passionate, and knowledgeable board representing food and agriculture from an academic, nonprofit, and business perspective.

The board held its first meeting in August 2014.

Founding Staff: First Employee and First Executive Director

Katy Raymond was hired as the Foundation’s first employee in October 2014.

A hiring committee composed of several FFAR board members, a USDA advisor, and Raymond, selected Dr. Sally Rockey to be the Foundation’s first Executive Director.

Dr. Rockey, an entomologist, came to FFAR from the National Institutes of Health, where as Deputy Director for Extramural Research she oversaw the operations of the largest Federal extramural research program. Prior to her time at the NIH, Rockey spent nearly two decades at the USDA, where she held a number of positions within the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (today’s NIFA).