The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) was established by the Agricultural Act of 2014, known as the Farm Bill.

The premise of FFAR’s formation was that increased investment in cutting edge research and development, through public-private partnerships, 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.

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.

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


The Farm Bill initially provided FFAR with $200M to invest in research and required that FFAR match those funds with equal or greater non-federal dollars.


The 2014 Farm Bill specified that a Board of Directors composed of appointed voting members and five ex-officio nonvoting members govern the Foundation. The five ex-officio members include:

  • The Secretary of Agriculture, USDA
  • The Under Secretary of Research, Education, and Economics
  • The Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service, USDA
  • The Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA
  • The Director of the National Science Foundation

The individuals selected for these government positions are automatically appointed as ex-officio members of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Board of Directors, per the 2014 Farm Bill.

An essential piece of the USDA’s efforts to establish FFAR included 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 FFAR Board of Directors held its first meeting in August 2014.


The Foundation hired its first employee in October 2014.

A hiring committee selected Dr. Sally Rockey to be the Foundation’s first Executive Director in September 2015.

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).

Since its establishment, FFAR has become a thriving organization with a vibrant staff.