• FFAR Combats Deadly, Costly Swine Viruses in Contaminated Feed

    PIPESTONE and WASHINGTON (July 2, 2019) –The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research awarded a Rapid Outcomes from Agricultural Research (ROAR) grant to Pipestone Applied Research to halt the spread of deadly and costly swine viruses in animal feed by adding mitigants, additives that deactivate the viruses, directly to animal feed. Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus and Seneca Valley A (SVA) are deadly swine diseases that can spread through contaminated animal feed. Swine producers have had difficulty protecting their herds from these viruses. This research can reduce the spread of these viruses and may be relevant to preventing the introduction other viruses, such as African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV), to a herd. PRRS, the most economically devastating disease affecting U.S. swine production today, has infected up to 50 percent of the national sow herd in recent years. It currently costs U.S. farmers over $560 million annually. PED arrived in the U.S. in 2013, infecting and killing a full 10 percent of the pig crop. With no treatment or cure for PED, the mortality rate can reach 100 percent in piglets. Lastly, pork producers nationwide have been battling an outbreak of SVA, a relative of Food and Mouth Disease, since 2015. The research team is testing 10 commercially available disease mitigants, or feed additives, to assess whether these mitigants can deactivate PRRS, PED and SVA. The mitigants are added to feed containing the viruses and then fed to pigs in a commercial setting, to replicate on-farm conditions, although none of these animals enter the food supply. “Pipestone Applied Research’s initiative to provide production-driven research to producers is already generating promising research for farmers and the pork industry,” stated Dr. Scott Dee, Research Director at Pipestone Applied Research. “FFAR’s ROAR grant enables us to test additional mitigants in feed, which we are finding have a significant impact on reducing the spread of viruses. This breakthrough has the potential to improve animal welfare and ultimately lessen the financial sting of these devastating diseases.” “This research is a significant breakthrough in stemming the spread of deadly viruses in contaminated feed. It could revolutionize the way we control animal viruses, protecting pigs from deadly illness and saving pork producers millions in annual financial losses,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “The added benefit of this research is that it might also be applicable to other viruses, such as African Swine Fever.” Pipestone researchers and collaborators are planning a second phase of this research to identify mitigants that could potentially deactivate ASFV, which devastated the Chinese pork industry and has recently been detected in Europe. ASFV is easy to transmit, difficult to destroy and there is no treatment or cure. Recent research has shown that ASFV can cross continents in contaminated feed ingredients. The second phase of the project, which FFAR is also funding, will test the mitigants ability to deactivate ASFV in a biocontainment facility at Kansas State University. This research is funded through FFAR’s ROAR program, which rapidly funds research and outreach in response to emerging or unanticipated threats to the nation’s food supply or agricultural systems. This ROAR grant is co-funded by ADM Animal Nutrition, Anitox, Kemin Industries, PMI Nutrition Additives and Swine Health Information Center. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally 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, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking CONTACT: Sarah Goldberg, 202.624.0704, sgoldberg@foundationfar.org


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  • FFAR Awards Inaugural Vet Fellowship to Ten Students

    WASHINGTON D.C. (June 26, 2019) – Veterinary medicine is critical to addressing global challenges related to food security, economic well-being and public health. Yet, few vet students have the opportunity to perform research on how these challenges intersect with animal agriculture. In partnership with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) has launched the Veterinary Student Research Fellowships to Address Global Challenges in Food and Agriculture (FFAR Vet Fellows). This fellowship creates opportunities for veterinary students to pursue research related to global food security and sustainable animal production. Shifts in food and animal production practices, climate and exposure to infectious diseases have left livestock producers at home and abroad struggling to protect their herds. More research is needed to understand how to best manage these issues; however, funding trends lead many veterinary scientists to focus on biomedical research, leaving various large-scale challenges in animal agriculture unaddressed. FFAR developed the Vet Fellows Program to encourage veterinary scientists to explore and better understand the complexities of animal production, improve animal welfare, and enhance human health. “The FFAR Vet Fellows program provides mentorship and experience that prepares rising stars in veterinary science for public service and scientific careers,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “The first cohort of Vet Fellows is conducting bold research in previously underfunded areas of veterinarian science that help farmers combat pests, disease and antimicrobial resistance.” The three-month long fellowship allows up to 10 students annually to conduct research with a mentor. The fellowship culminates with student presentations at the annual National Veterinary Scholars Symposium in late July/early August. This year the symposium will be hosted by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. The 2019 FFAR Vet Fellows include: Roel Becerra, University of Georgia Using existing specialized technology, Becerra will develop tools that accurately and efficiently diagnose diseases like Avian Pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) and Salmonella spp in food-producing animals. Preston Cernek, University of Wisconsin-Madison Digital Dermatitis (DD) affects about 90 percent of US dairy herds and is associated with decreased milk production, lameness and infertility. Early detection and prompt treatment offer better prognosis but early detection of DD on commercial dairy farms is difficult. Cernek is using computer vision technology to create a digital tool for early DD detection on commercial dairy farms. Shelby Crump, University of Illinois Infertility or limited fertility jeopardizes the efficiency and longevity of dairy cows. Crump is examining several pregnancy-signaling pathways in cows, research that improves reproductive performance. Melody Koo, Western University of Health Sciences Current tests for detecting animals carrying Piroplasmosis, a blood-borne disease that affects wild and domestic animals in Africa and Europe, are not effective. Koo’s research uses next-generation genetic sequencing technology to improve the test based on Piroplasmosis species’ DNA. Hayley Masterson, Washington State University Masterson is researching Babesia bovis, a tick-borne parasite that infects cattle in tropical regions and causes significant economic losses for farmers. Masterson’s research is identifying proteins common to different microorganisms that may be used for vaccine development. Sarah Krueger, Kansas State University Anaplasmosis is the most prevalent tick-transmitted disease in cattle worldwide. Krueger is assessing whether the Lone Star tick, the most common tick found on cattle, contributes to the spread and development of anaplasmosis. Her research could inform disease management and treatment strategies. Cara Newberry, University California, Davis Antimicrobial resistance can cause life-threating infections in humans and livestock. Newberry’s research in Iringa, Tanzania is assessing the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant E. coli in local chickens and evaluating risk factors that could influence transmission to humans. Macon Overcast, Ohio State University Livestock and wildlife, land-use patterns and other factors influence the development and spread of antibiotic resistance in agricultural environments. Overcast is using computer models to better understand how to mitigate this public health threat. Laura Raines, Auburn University Bovine viral diarrhea virus is an infectious viral disease in cattle that negatively impacts reproductive performance and causes high mortality in calves. Raines is examining prenatal testing methods to identify pregnant cattle that carry the virus and control disease spread. Lauren Riggs, Colorado State University Bluetongue virus and epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus are both transmitted by insects and infect ruminant animals. Riggs is examining two strains of a similar virus to determine how simultaneous infections affects their evolution and replication rate. This research will inform our current understanding of insect-borne diseases in ruminants. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally 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, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. AAVMC The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect and improve the health and welfare of animals, people and the environment around the world by advancing academic veterinary medicine. Members include 50 accredited veterinary medical colleges in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking CONTACT: Colleen Klemczewski, 202-204-2605, cklemczewski@foundationfar.org


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  • FFAR-Funded Industry Venture Achieves Initial Success in Ending Surgical Castration of Swine

    ST. PAUL and WASHINGTON (June 19, 2019) – Male piglets are castrated to improve the quality of meat for consumers, but this practice is also a concerning animal welfare issue, as it is usually performed without pain management. Recombinetics/Acceligen and Hendrix Genetics successfully used a genome editing method to create swine that remain in a pre-pubertal state, thus eliminating the need for surgical castration. The first litter of castration-free prototype piglets using commercially relevant genetics confirms the methodology is working. In 2017 the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a grant to Recombinetics, Inc. to end surgical swine castration. Since then, Recombinetics/Acceligen and Hendrix Genetics, pioneering companies in swine genetics, responsible farm animal breeding and precision breeding technologies, formed the “Alliance to End Surgical Castration of Swine.” This venture developed an approach that prevents sexual maturation in swine without introducing any foreign material into the genes of pigs. “This first litter of permanently prepubescent piglets is a huge success,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR executive director. “Not only does the industry benefit, but once this technology is deployed commercially, we can eliminate an animal welfare issue while maintaining a quality product for consumers.” Intact male pigs experience “boar taint,” which causes an unpleasant odor and unsavory taste in the resulting meat. Male pigs are castrated young to prevent boar taint; pain relievers are rarely administered. Castrated piglets show an acute physiological stress response to castration, including increased stress hormone levels, elevated heart rate and demonstrated indicators of pain that can last for four days following the procedure. The European Union has banned the practice of swine castration, but its implementation has been delayed amid challenges to the costs of implementation. This project has successfully deleted the gene that triggers the release of hormones necessary for sexual maturation in the piglets’ DNA, preventing them from reaching puberty, and thus negating the need to castrate the pigs. The next step in this research is determining the commercial viability of castration-free pigs. Since these prototype pigs were created to be permanently prepubescent, the alliance is determining how to breed these pigs without comprising traits like feed efficiency and meat quality. The alliance comprises some of the largest pig genetic companies in the world, possessing the capacity and capabilities needed to supply these permanently prepubescent pigs to pork producers worldwide. Research is being led by Principal Investigator Tad Sonstegard, Ph.D., Chief Executive and Scientific Officer of Acceligen, Recombinetics’ agriculture division. “The birth of these castration-free prototype piglets using commercially relevant genetics is just another example of how Acceligen is working to deploy our breeding technologies to help producers better meet the demands of consumers and producers to improve food animal well-being,” said Sonstegard. “The technical expertise and support provided by Hypor and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research gives our alliance the capability to meet these demands with the highest standards. Together we will bring the castration-free trait to market and provide solutions to benefit the pork industry,” said Sonstegard. “At Hendrix Genetics, we are very excited about the birth of the first castration-free piglets. This is an important step to end one of the biggest concerns of the swine industry regarding animal well-being. Within Hypor, Hendrix Genetics’ swine business unit, we are continuously exploring new opportunities to support the pork value chain with innovative and sustainable genetic solutions,” said Luis Prieto Garcia, Managing Director Swine, Hendrix Genetics. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally 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, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking CONTACT: Sarah Goldberg, 202-624-0704, sgoldberg@foundationfar.org


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  • FFAR Awards MSU Grant to Decrease Feed Costs for Milk Production

    WASHINGTON and EAST LANSING (May 21 2019) – Feeding the 9 million US dairy cows requires millions of acres of…


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  • FFAR Grant Helps Heat-Stressed Dairy Cows Weather Increasing Temperatures

    ITHACA and WASHINGTON (April 11, 2019) – Heat-stressed dairy cows cost the American dairy industry an alarming $1.5 billion annually. With temperatures expected to rise, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $736,392 Seeding Solutions Grant to Cornell University to improve dairy cows’ ability to withstand extreme heat. The FFAR grant is matched with funding from AB Vista, Adisseo, Balchem Corporation, Berg + Schmidt, Elanco, Phibro Animal Health, and Vetagro S.p.A. for a total $1.47 million investment. The demand for dairy products and milk globally is expected to increase 57 percent by 2050. Rising temperatures will further compromise the American dairy industry in meeting future demand. Dairy cows are unable to efficiently produce milk when their body temperatures rise above normal, a condition known as hyperthermia-induced heat stress. Heat-stressed dairy cows also have reduced fertility, are more likely to develop infectious and metabolic diseases, and may succumb to premature death. According to Dr. Joseph McFadden, Assistant Professor of Cattle Biology and Principal Investigator at Cornell University, “Climate change and extreme heat represent key barriers for the sustainable production of milk that meets consumer expectations for quality as well as the rising global demand for dairy foods. We must act now to develop innovative solutions that revolutionize how we feed heat-stressed cows to ensure optimum animal health and welfare while achieving gains in efficient milk production.” Heat stress in cattle is linked to a condition commonly called leaky gut. Specifically, hyperthermia can lead to bacterial endotoxins leaking from the gut, which causes liver inflammation. In response, the cow’s body pulls resources from producing milk to preserve health. Researchers will start by understanding the relationship between dairy cattle’s gut health, intestinal permeability, liver health, immunity and milk production. Working with industry, McFadden’s team will determine whether heat-stressed dairy cows can recover if fed specific remedies. Ultimately, this project aims to identify nutrition-based solutions that improves dairy cows’ ability to adapt to extreme heat. “Heat stress is an urgent animal health and welfare concern, and it also creates additional pressures for the nation’s dairy farmers,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “FFAR is optimistic that Cornell’s research can improve the health of dairy cows, increase efficient milk production and help American dairy farmers protect their livestock.” FFAR’s Seeding Solutions Grant program is an open call for bold ideas that address a pressing food and agriculture issues in one of the Foundation’s Challenge Areas. Cornell’s research furthers FFAR’s 2018 Protein Challenge Area, now the Advanced Animal Systems Challenge Area. The work in this Challenge Area supports sustainable animal systems through innovative technologies, environmentally sound production practices, and advancements in animal health and welfare. This research project has the potential to not only meet FFAR’s goals, but also develop solutions that can improve the America dairy industry. McFadden’s team will further partner with industry collaborators to reduce the use of limited natural resources and drive down dairy production costs in support of a more sustainable and economically viable American dairy industry. The consortium of allied industry partners that committed support demonstrates the urgent need for new strategies to improve gut and liver health in heat-stressed cows. Their involvement is essential to ensure translation of discoveries into practical on-farm dairy nutrition strategies that improve heat stress resilience in cows. McFadden will work with each sponsor and the Cornell PRO-DAIRY program to disseminate knowledge in an annual editorial series called “Beat the Heat: Dairy Nutrition Strategies for Optimum Cow Health” that will be shared with thousands of American dairy farmers. “The American dairy industry is a leading domestic and international supplier of dairy. This translational research program in collaboration with industry has the potential to revolutionize dairy cattle nutrition to ensure that our American dairy farmers will continue to produce a high- quality food. Global population growth and climate change are real challenges and we aim to develop real solutions,” said McFadden. Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally 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, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is a pioneer of purpose-driven science and home to Cornell University’s second largest population of students, faculty and staff. We work across disciplines to tackle the challenges of our time through world-renowned research, education and outreach. The questions we probe and the answers we seek focus on three overlapping concerns: natural and human systems; food, energy and environmental resources; and social, physical and economic well-being. Connect: @CornellCALS


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  • FFAR Announces $4M Animal Welfare Technology Research Initiative, In Partnership With McDonald’s

     SMART Broiler Initiative Harnesses Technology to Improve Poultry Welfare Assessments WASHINGTON (April 2, 2019) – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announces the launch of the SMART Broiler, a research initiative offering $4 million for research supporting the development and commercialization of automated monitoring tools that quantitatively assess key animal welfare indicators in broiler chickens. FFAR is excited to partner with McDonald’s Corporation as a cofounder on this initiative. The SMART Broiler program is now accepting applications to improve animal welfare. Existing methods for assessing animal welfare rely on human observation and subjective scoring. This initiative aims to identify technology solutions to provide objective and comprehensive information about broiler welfare across the supply chain. “FFAR is committed to improving animal welfare. Developing monitoring tools is critical to understanding and improving animal welfare across the broiler industry,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “The SMART Broiler program will not only improve the accuracy of welfare assessments, but also enhance producer efficiency and profitability.” The SMART Broiler program will develop tools to quantitatively assess and collect information regarding key welfare indicators such as walking ability and behavior. The Sensors, Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technologies (SMART) developed during this initiative will be tested in McDonald’s suppliers’ commercial broiler facilities, encouraging their adoption on a wide scale. These tools have the potential to improve welfare for 9 billion birds annually in the U.S. and over 20 billion worldwide. “This work builds on our decades-long commitment and progress on animal welfare. We are excited to partner with FFAR to identify innovative, scalable technology solutions that will allow our supply chain to monitor animals’ behavior and welfare across diverse, global supply chains at commercial scale and ultimately help drive improved welfare outcomes,” Keith Kenny, Vice President of Global Sustainability, McDonald’s. “FFAR is pleased to partner with McDonald’s to develop tools that improve animal welfare. Testing these tools with one of the largest food companies has the potential to make considerable impact industry wide,” noted FFAR Scientific Program Director, Tim Kurt. SMART Broiler grants will be awarded in two phases to multiple, cross-disciplinary teams. The research objective is to rapidly develop the hardware components, data management and analytics necessary to assess broiler chicken welfare on the farm. The initial funding phase will award a maximum of four grants, each receiving up to $500,000. SMART Broiler phase I is currently accepting pre-proposals until May 29, 2019. The SMART Broiler website includes information about applying for these grants. During the second research phase, those awardees whose technology solutions demonstrated promise and delivered value will receive up to $1,000,000 in additional funding to continue to refine and validate their technologies. The end goal of the program is to develop commercially-feasible tools that can deployed worldwide. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) 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, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking


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  • Egg-Tech Prize Opportunity to Revolutionize Egg Production, Improve Animal Welfare and Save Billions

    WASHINGTON (March 20, 2019) – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) today launched the Egg-Tech Prize. FFAR and the Open Philanthropy Project are together offering up to $6 million in prizes to the firm, group or individual who successfully develops a technology that can accurately and rapidly determine a chick’s sex as early as possible in the egg production process. Egg industry workers are currently only able to identify a chick’s sex after it hatches. For the 6 billion laying hens hatched each year worldwide, a similar number of male chicks are produced that never make it to market. The male chicks cannot lay eggs and are unsuitable for consumption due to poor growth performance and meat quality. As there is no need for the male chicks, they are culled, a practice known as male chick culling. This practice not only creates major challenges for animal welfare, but it also results in lost-opportunity costs that hinder farm profitability. Currently, producers devote time and resources to incubating the male eggs, only to cull the male chicks upon hatching. “Accelerating this technology will allow egg producers to prevent the deaths of billions of chicks per year,” said Lewis Bollard, program officer for farm animal welfare for the Open Philanthropy Project. “Combined with the transition to cage-free housing, this has the potential to greatly improve the welfare of layer hens.” If egg hatcheries had a technology to determine the chick’s sex on the day it is laid, over 6 billion male eggs could be used for food, animal feed or vaccine production. It would also reduce the cost and carbon footprint of incubating layer eggs. This technology would save the egg industry between $1.5 -$2.5 billion each year. “This Prize is an opportunity to revolutionize the egg industry,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “Eliminating male chick culling – a practice opposed by industry and animal advocacy organizations alike –would greatly improve animal welfare and add billions of eggs to the food supply. This Prize is a win-win for egg producers and consumers.” The Egg-Tech Prize brings together industry and advocates to jointly work toward ending male chick culling. FFAR is thrilled to have the support of both Open Philanthropy Project, a co-funder of the Prize, and United Egg Producers (UEP), a cooperative representing U.S. egg farmers. “UEP farmer-members are committed to high standards for animal welfare and continuous improvement in all aspects of egg production, and addressing male chick culling is a leading priority,” said Chad Gregory, UEP president and CEO. “The issue of identifying sex in-ovo is scientifically complex, with millions of dollars already spent by stakeholders to develop a solution. UEP appreciates FFAR’s support of this critical research, and we are hopeful it will bring much-needed progress toward meaningful outcomes.” Current approaches to solving this challenge range from gene-editing to measuring an egg’s hormone levels to determine its sex. However, these proposed solutions have drawbacks that prevent global adoption. An ideal solution would determine a chick’s sex early in development, before hatcheries invest in incubation and without genetically modifying the poultry genome. Recent advancements in sensor technologies, engineering and biological sciences suggest that it is possible to develop a technology that both successfully determines an egg’s sex before it hatches and can be integrated into existing production systems. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) 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, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking CONTACT: Sarah Goldberg, FFAR, 202.624.0704, sgoldberg@foundationfar.org Open Philanthropy Project The Open Philanthropy Project identifies outstanding giving opportunities, makes grants, follows the results, and publishes its findings. Its mission is to give as effectively as it can and share its findings openly so that anyone can build on its work. Connect: @open_phil


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  • FFAR Grant Establishes Pacific Bluefin Tuna Egg Hatchery

    Project Has Potential to Blow Tuna Market Out of the WaterWASHINGTON, D.C. (March 11, 2019) – Currently, Pacific Bluefin Tuna (PBFT) farming production relies on catching wild juvenile tuna and raising them to maturity before distributing the fish to markets. This practice is unsustainable, as it increases fishing pressure on the wild population. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is awarding a $945,000 grant to Ichthus Unlimited, LLC to cultivate PBFT eggs as part of a sustainable model for farm production. “Today 98 percent of tuna ranching relies on wild-captured fish for the stocking of net pens. This adds to the already massive fishing pressure on wild bluefin tuna populations,” said Alejandro Buentello, president of Ichthus Unlimited, LLC. “Hatchery-reared tuna will not only make it possible to stock cages without fishing, but it can also be used as a stock enhancement strategy to empower wild tuna populations to rebound more rapidly. It is a proactive rather than reactive strategy.” Ichthus Unlimited, LLC will establish a hatchery in the San Diego Bay area to cultivate PBFT eggs and grow them to juvenile fish which can then be distributed to tuna farms to mature. Acquiring tuna from the hatchery, rather than from the wild population, should reduce rates of overfishing and help stabilize the wild population. At only three percent of its original population, PBFT are on the verge of being placed on the endangered species list. “Bluefin tuna aquaculture represents a major new high-value market for US farmers, but there is much science to be done to produce the fish entirely under farmed conditions,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR executive director. “This research has the potential to not only stabilize the wild population, but also create economic opportunities in farming the delicacy.” As the “holy grail” of aquaculture, bluefin tuna can sell for tens of thousands and occasionally millions of dollars per fish. It is estimated that bluefin species products generate approximately $2-2.5 billion in value worldwide each year. Increases in tuna production would also create jobs and economic gains, particularly for coastal communities in California and the Gulf of Mexico. This innovative research has the potential to reduce the overfishing of PBFT, aid in restoration efforts, and stimulate economic growth. Despite the popularity of PBFT, few indoor facilities in the world have the expertise needed to raise PBFT from eggs. The team at Ichthus Unlimited, LLC will collaborate with these indoor hatching facilities and leverage their combined knowledge to successfully implement this practice. FFAR has convened world-renowned experts to develop a practical approach that enhances PBFT egg production, and subsequently, produces more tuna. The private-public partnership includes Ichthus Unlimited, the Illinois Soybean Association, Texas A&M University, and the Spanish Institute of Oceanography. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) 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, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking


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  • Iowa State University to Lead Research to Increase Pig Survivability

    AMES, Iowa (December 6, 2018) — A research project led by the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University seeks to increase pork producers’ profits by improving the survivability of their animals. Jason Ross, the Lloyd L Anderson Professor and director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State, will lead the project that includes scientists from Iowa State, Kansas State University and Purdue University. The National Pork Board and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) are providing nearly $2 million for the five-year study. “This project is a great example of industry leadership coming together to address emerging issues through university and industry research partnerships,” Ross said. Across the pork industry, an estimated 30 to 35 percent of pigs born die before reaching the market, creating significant economic losses for farmers. Research indicates that mortality rates across all phases of production have been increasing, presenting a major challenge to animal wellbeing and sustainability. “The members of the animal science and welfare committees of the National Pork Board recognize improving pig health, welfare and productivity are keys in extending pig survivability,” said Chris Hostetler, director of animal science for the National Pork Board. “While this project is slated to last five years, it is the vision of the committees that this effort will fundamentally shape the way pigs are raised to provide safe, wholesome pork far into the future.” An interdisciplinary team of nutritionists, physiologists, veterinarians, well-being and behavior experts, geneticists, toxicologists, extension specialists and economists will examine the causes of mortality occurring on commercial swine farms. “We know that improving survivability will increase the efficiency and environmental sustainability of the whole industry,” said Tim Kurt, FFAR’s scientific program director, “but solutions need to be economically feasible.” “Increasing sow and piglet survivability is one of the most intractable issues facing the pork industry. While this is a clear animal welfare problem, it is also one of the most important productivity and economic issue for producers,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “FFAR is pleased to be part of this important research that unquestionably will have a multitude of positive impacts.” The project seeks a full understanding of the biological mechanisms that limit pig and sow survivability, how they interact and how they can be effectively improved. The project’s overarching goal, through effective research and extension activities, is to improve swine survivability by 1 percent or more each year. Increasing the wean-to-finish survival of animals by 1 percent would represent an estimated gain in productivity of approximately 1.2 million pigs a year for the nation’s swine industry. The research team objectives include:Evaluate producers’ management attitudes and economics associated with improving survivability in U.S. swine production Identify the causes of mortality on U.S. sow farms to support development and implementation of targeted strategies to maximize survivability Define factors that influence wean-to-finish survivability and implement management strategies based on production-based research Develop national extension, outreach and education resources and strategies to encourage adoption and implementation of management practices to improve survivability in pork production.Another aspect of the project is the significant effort placed on training future industry leaders. This includes graduate students and staff, but is also expected to employ many undergraduate and veterinary students through internship programs. Additional information on the project team, specific efforts and progress can be followed on the project website www.piglivability.org. About the National Pork Board The National Pork Board has responsibility for checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, science and technology, swine health, pork safety and sustainability and environmental management. For information on checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or check the internet at pork.org. 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 ## Contacts: Jason Ross, Animal Science, Iowa Pork Industry Center, 515-294-8647, jwross@iastate.edu Ed Adcock, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service, 515-294-2314, edadcock@iastate.edu On the Web: This and all other Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences news releases and related photos are available at http://www.cals.iastate.edu/news/.


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