• Happy National Ag Week

    Happy National Ag Week! Our closest relationship to Earth is through agriculture – it serves as the foundation on which our country and all of civilization has flourished. This week, we celebrate the farmers, ranchers, and producers who work tirelessly to put food on our tables. Thank you for everything you do to cultivate the abundance provided by American agriculture. But we’re faced with a monumental challenge in the coming years. More food will be consumed in the next 50 years than in the last 7,000 years. We will need to feed nearly 10 billion people by 2050 and we must do this with the same about or diminishing land while protecting our national resources. Science is accelerating at breakneck speed. Our ability to couple new tech with what we rapidly discover about living things means that the agricultural enterprise is benefiting so rapidly from research that it is truly breathtaking. I truly believe there is no better time to be engaged in agricultural science and research. America’s support of food and agriculture research has helped us become the world’s leader in agriculture production, but public investment in ag science is declining. Now, more than ever, we need food and agriculture research to help farmers put food on our tables. At FFAR, we believe that public-private partnerships will be essential to spur the innovation we need to feed the world. We must continue to bring together the best and brightest scientists to address challenges in food and agriculture – plus provide them the support they need to make the discoveries that will accelerate innovation. Let’s work together to support agriculture research that spurs innovation and leads us to a future where we all have access to healthy, nourishing food produced by thriving American farms. About the Author Dr. Sally Rockey became the inaugural Executive Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) in September 2015. Prior to this role, Dr. Rockey was a leader in Federal research, overseeing the operations of the extramural programs in both agriculture and biomedicine.  She spent 19 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before taking on the extramural research program at the National Institutes of Health. As Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Dr. Rockey led groundbreaking initiatives and activities that have and will have a lasting positive impact on the research community. Dr. Rockey received her Ph.D. in Entomology from the Ohio State University.


    Continue reading
  • The Time is RIPE for Agricultural Innovation

    By Sally Rockey, FFAR Executive Director Greetings from Champaign, Illinois! By now you’ve heard about the groundbreaking RIPE project and its quest to improve photosynthetic efficiency in plants. I had the pleasure of joining co-funders from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and U.K. Department of International Development along with agricultural leaders and USDA representatives to see firsthand where the innovation happens during the RIPE Reinvestment event at the University of Illinois. From left to right: FFAR Board Member Pam Johnson, RIPE Deputy Director Don Ort, FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey, and University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones.   RIPE, or Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency, researchers have already redesigned photosynthesis to increase test crop yields by 20 percent. Now, with an additional $45 million investment, the team of University and USDA scientists is working to provide those same yield increases to soybeans, cassava, and cowpeas. Imagine what this could mean in the fight against world hunger. Farmers across the world could produce more food simply by harnessing the power of the sun. There is endless potential in this project to improve human health and increase economic opportunities for farmers.   Johannes Kromdijk, Postdoctoral Researcher for RIPE, explained the rigorous process of studying the photosynthetic process of plants in his lab in the Carl. R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois.   The RIPE team brings together experts from around the world to look at photosynthesis – the process that makes a plant a plant! It’s basic for plant survival, yet it can be very inefficient. By studying plant genetics, RIPE will lead the way in creating crops that will feed the world. Tackling big problems with big science is what FFAR is all about. It was amazing to see how many labs and researchers are involved in this project, not only at University of Illinois but also at partner institutions across the U.S. and overseas – it really is a team effort! I’m excited to see what discoveries they make and how it will change the world. I’m proud to support RIPE researchers and their work toward ending hunger with innovative science.     About the Author Dr. Sally Rockey became the inaugural Executive Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) in September 2015. Prior to this role, Dr. Rockey was a leader in Federal research, overseeing the operations of the extramural programs in both agriculture and biomedicine.  She spent 19 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before taking on the extramural research program at the National Institutes of Health. As Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Dr. Rockey led groundbreaking initiatives and activities that have and will have a lasting positive impact on the research community. Dr. Rockey received her Ph.D. in Entomology from the Ohio State University.


    Continue reading
  • Getting Smarter During Smart Irrigation Month

    Guest Co-Author: Deborah M. Hamlin, CEO, Irrigation Association  Pivot irrigation systems are one…


    Continue reading
  • Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms: New Cover Crop Initiative

    Today, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation announced a $6.6 million initiative to improve soil health through development and adoption of cover…


    Continue reading
  • First FFAR Grantees: Meet the 2016 New Innovators

    Today I am honored to announce the first scientists to receive Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research grants. Our New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award program sought…


    Continue reading
  • FFAR at the Borlaug Dialogue: Celebrating the New NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences

    Greetings from Des Moines, Iowa! By now you’ve heard a lot from me about the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences Established by the Foundation for…


    Continue reading
  • Next Great Frontier in Plant Breeding: Phenomics

    As the first half of 2016 has proved to be the hottest ever recorded, Earth is on track to have yet another…


    Continue reading
  • Phytobiome: Emerging Potential

    A reflection on FFAR’s Phytobiome Convening Event Incredible challenges face the agricultural enterprise today: water…


    Continue reading
  • Honoring & Inspiring Future Breakthroughs: New Prize

    It is with great pride that I announce the new National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences.  With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,…


    Continue reading
  • On Earth Day, Celebrating Science that Sustains our Growing World

      Mankind’s closest relationship with Earth has been through agriculture.  Agriculture is the machinery by which our relationship with Earth is operationalized.  And like other machinery, agriculture must run efficiently,…


    Continue reading