• FFAR Awards $1 Million Grant to Combat Water Scarcity and Increase Yields

    MANHATTAN, KS and WASHINGTON (July 16, 2019) – The production of food and fiber consumes 70 percent of the world’s water, placing a burden on farmers to increase water productivity and efficiency. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $1 million Seeding Solutions grant to Kansas State University to increase water-efficient crop yields. Kansas State University, Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission, Corteva Agriscience, Collaborative Sorghum Investment Program, and University of California matched the FFAR grant for a total $2 million investment. Many regions in the United States struggle with water scarcity, which threatens ecosystem sustainability and farmers’ livelihoods. To combat the effects of water scarcity, farmers need access to more diversified farming systems that balance water conservation with crop productivity and environmental sustainability. Crops like sorghum can diversify the farming system to balance conservation with productivity while supporting the vitality of rural communities. However, the use of these crops has declined partly because of the lag in genetic gain for minor crops, when compared to other crops like corn, and soybeans. Scientists have developed a genome-to-phenome (G2P) breeding approach that combines crop modeling, genomic prediction and managed-stress experiments to increase water-limited yields in corn. This transformative approach that improves crops using G2P breeding was developed by project collaborator, Corteva. Kansas State University is using the FFAR grant to extend the G2P approach in underutilized crops like sorghum. Researchers are optimistic that if water-efficient crops produce greater yields, farmers will be more willing to diversify their fields. “This project has the potential to increase yields of crops that grow using less water, and when planted alongside leading crops, can better distribute the existing water in the soil and supporting thriving farms,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “Using this new approach, Kansas State can boost yields and conserve limited water resources. This work could be a breakthrough for sustainability and profitability.” Researchers are using sorghum as a model to determine how this breeding approach can effectively lay the groundwork for increased yields for water-efficient crops. The successful implementation of this breeding approach could increase crop diversity and overall productivity of crops in water-scarce environments. This project engages early career plant breeders and scientists to learn and adopt this breeding technique. “Getting high yield and water efficiency from the same crop is a challenge, but G2P breeding navigates around the trade-offs” says Dr. Geoffrey Morris, Associate Professor, Agronomy at Kansas State University “We’re excited to bring the G2P approach to sorghum and other water-efficient crops”.” 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. This research supports FFAR’s 2018 Overcoming Water Scarcity Challenge Area, currently the Sustainable Water Management Challenge Area. FFAR’s work in this area focuses on increasing water availability and water efficiency for agricultural use, reducing agricultural water pollution and developing water reuse technologies. ### 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 | Corteva Agriscience Corteva Agriscience provides farmers around the world with the most complete input portfolio in the industry to enable them to maximize yield and profitability — including some of the most recognized brands in agriculture: Pioneer®, Granular®, Brevant™ seeds, as well as award-winning Crop Protection products — while bringing new products to market through its robust pipeline of active chemistry and technologies. The company is committed to working with stakeholders throughout the food system as it fulfills its promise to enrich the lives of those who produce and those who consume, ensuring progress for generations to come. Corteva Agriscience became an independent public company on June 1, 2019 and was previously the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont. More information can be found at www.corteva.com. Connect: @Corteva Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission provides value to Kansas sorghum farmers through investments in research, market development, education and promotion. Kansas State University K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.ksre.ksu.edu


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  • Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Announces 100th Grant

    Browning, MT (July 15, 2019) — The Foundation for Food and Agriculture (FFAR), a non-profit organization established by the 2014 Farm Bill, awarded its 100th grant at the 2019 North American Indian Days Grand Entry on July 12, 2019. The grant was awarded to Montana State University, in concert with the Blackfeet Nation, to develop best practices in natural resource management, climate adaptation and water governance that are consistent with the Tribe’s cultural values. Below is a statement from FFAR’s Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey in recognition of FFAR’s 100th grant: “I am proud to announce that FFAR awarded our 100th grant to Montana State University and the Blackfeet Nation for research supporting sustainable agriculture in Blackfeet Nation. The grant is emblematic of FFAR’s mission and values. Not only will this grant combat growing diet-related health issues, it will also support the development of best practices in natural resource management, climate adaptation and water governance. FFAR is committed to building public private partnerships to fund innovate science that provides every person access to affordable, nutritious food grown on thriving farms. This grant exemplifies the transformative research that FFAR is thrilled to support. “I am also proud of how far the Foundation has come since its establishment. FFAR was founded in the 2014 Farm Bill, we awarded our first grant in 2016 and are now celebrating our 100th grant. When I started this job in 2015, we were a team of three along with our wonderful Board of Directors. We had the daunting task of building an organization from the ground up, and yet, everyone involved shared a belief in FFAR’s potential to fund truly innovative agriculture research. “Five years later, we’re a team of 20 and we’re bringing innovative research that tackles food and agriculture’s most intractable challenges to fruition. Through our work with over 280 funding partners, FFAR is pushing the boundary of agriculture innovation, finding opportunities to protect the environment, improve health and help farmers thrive. “FFAR continues to pioneer the next frontier of scientific innovation, funding projects that catalyze breakthroughs benefiting farmers, the environment and the global community.” ### 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


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  • FFAR Awards 100th Grant to Support Sustainable Agriculture in Blackfeet Nation

    Joseph Pecora PhotographyBROWNING, MONTANA (July 10, 2019) — The Blackfeet Nation (Amskapi Piikani) in Montana is home to one of the largest intact ecosystems in the lower forty-eight states. Yet, despite their rich agricultural diversity, the Piikani people suffer from diet-related health disparities and persistent poverty. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded its 100th grant to Montana State University and the Blackfeet Nation to develop best practices in natural resource management, climate adaptation and water governance that are consistent with the Amskapi Piikani cultural values. The Blackfeet Nation, Montana State University’s Department of Native American Studies and its Native Land Project, and other Blackfeet Nation partners have provided matching support for a total project investment of $2 million. The Blackfeet Nation’s primary industry is agriculture, with reservation lands supporting about 500,000 acres of grain and forage production, and over 1,000,000 acres of grazing lands for cattle, sheep and horses. With an abundance of rich natural resources at their disposal, the Piikani people can sustainably produce, distribute and consume food grown on their lands. From 2016 to 2019, a coalition of Piikani representatives partnered with stakeholders from federal and state agencies, universities and nonprofit organizations to develop the Blackfeet Agriculture Resource Management Plan (ARMP), which outlines a strategy for sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty and natural climate solutions. The tribe realized that achieving the objectives of the plan required innovative research and technology to enable widespread adoption. FFAR’s grant allows Piikani and Montana State University researchers to achieve three key objectives:Understanding the socio-economic cost of various management decisions to help Piikani farmers and ranchers make choices that reduce costs, protect the environment and increase local food access and affordability; Investigating various regional food systems to establish research priorities that sustainably nourish the Piikani people; and Identifying how traditional Indigenous foods and foodways influence Piikani health.“The funds that we have been granted from FFAR will help underwrite and support the Tribe’s efforts in implementing the community developed objectives for the Tribe’s ARMP,” said Loren BirdRattler, the Project Manager for the Blackfeet Tribe’s ARMP. “It will also position the Tribe to attain our own USDA Agriculture Research Station, which would be the first in Indian Country in the United States. FFAR’s generous support, along with the support of our partners, including Montana State University, provides ongoing opportunities for Blackfeet researchers to lead the way in implementing the research requirements that have been prioritized and defined under the ARMP.” This research has the potential to improve the Piikani people’s socioeconomic, health, agricultural, environmental and governance systems. The Piikani people will use this research to govern and manage their resources; form partnerships with outside organizations; and produce environmentally sustainable, nutritious food for themselves, and eventually for others. “This project fits well with Montana State University’s mission to transform lives and communities and is at the heart of the Land Grant mission; one of its goals is to increase mutually beneficial collaborations with Tribal partners,” said Dr. Walter Fleming, Department Head and Professor of Native American Studies at Montana State University. “The Department of Native American Studies, MSU, is proud to be a part of an innovative and systemic response to the evolution of tribal food sovereignty.” At its core, this research and the ARMP supports the Blackfeet Nation’s “triple bottom line,” which seeks to narrow health disparities, bolster sustainable economic development and support young farmers. This research directly aligns with FFAR’s core objectives to develop strategic public-private partnerships, fund innovative research and support the agriculture industry’s next generation. “FFAR is thrilled to be part of the Blackfeet Nation’s efforts to improve health, promote economic development and invest in future farmers and ranchers,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “This grant is especially significant not only because it highlights FFAR’s core objectives, but also because it marks FFAR’s 100th grant. FFAR was established in 2014, awarded the first grant in 2016 and is now celebrating our 100th grant in 2019. FFAR’s unique funding model and innovative research touches people around the globe.” FFAR’s Seeding Solutions grant program is an open call for bold ideas that address pressing food and agriculture issues in one of the Foundation’s Challenge Areas. This research supports FFAR’s Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area, which aims to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the United States and around the globe. ### 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: Colleen Klemczewski, 202-204-2605, cklemczewski@foundationfar.org


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  • 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 Grant Reframes Polarized Public Food Narrative

    WASHINGTON (June 18, 2019) – The national conversation about farming practices often oversimplifies agriculture concepts to good versus bad, which erodes public confidence in food safety, agricultural research and emerging technologies. However, if the agriculture sector could more effectively explain the benefits of agricultural advancements, consumers and policymakers would better understand of the value of sustainable farming practices. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded $150,000 to IPM Voice to develop communications strategies, in partnership with Red Tomato and FrameWorks Institute, that equip farmers and scientists to reframe the public conversation about agriculture. Scientists, environmentalists and farmers diligently educate the public about sustainable farming practices. However, their communication methods often do not comport with the public’s oversimplified understanding of agriculture. To create alignment, FrameWorks Institute researchers are using Strategic Frame Analysis to study people’s understanding of farming to develop new frames, metaphors and strategies that inform consumers about farming practices. By mapping consumer biases and exploring the different ways to discuss technology and farming practices, this project will deliver effective evidence-based communications strategies to reframe public discussions. “We can generate all the facts in the world about agriculture practices, but the key is to translate them appropriately for the consumer,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “This project improves how farmers talk about modern agricultural practices to help the public understand that agriculture research and technology can increase food safety and environmental sustainability.” Strategic Frame Analysis is a communication method invented by the FrameWorks Institute in 1999 that makes academic research more digestible and interesting. This method begins by understanding how consumer choices are influenced by preexisting beliefs and develops communications tools to reframe the topic. These resulting messages orient consumers toward an evidence-based understanding of innovative agricultural practices and eliminate misconceptions. “The growers we work with cannot readily explain advanced ecological farming practices to their customers in short, simple ways. And despite decades of marketing experience, neither can we,” said Red Tomato founder Michael Rozyne. “This project offers hope based in cognitive science, the promise of language, metaphors, and training in how to use them, so the public will actually hear and understand.” This project will deliver frames, metaphors and suggested strategies for farmers, scientists and agriculture organizations to reframe the national conversation about agriculture in a way that productively informs the public about the benefits of sustainable agriculture. ### 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, FFAR, 202.204.2605, sgoldberg@foundationfar.org


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  • FFAR and Gates Foundation Help Farms Combat Pests, Disease

    SEATTLE and WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 11, 2019) – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) partnered with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the 2019 Grand Challenges Explorations—Tools and Technologies for Broad-Scale Pest and Disease Surveillance of Crop Plants in Low-Income Countries program, which develops tools to improve crop pest and disease surveillance globally. FFAR contributed $300,000, which was matched by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a total program amount of $2,000,000. Pests and plant diseases wreak havoc on crops worldwide, reducing major food crop yields by an estimated 10 to 40 percent. While all farmers are negatively affected by pests and pathogens, farmers in low-income countries lack resources to combat pest and disease and are more susceptible to crop loss. In low-income countries, over 25 percent of crops are lost to pests and diseases. Monitoring and early detection programs can help lessen losses by providing timely and actionable insights on the severity and location of crop threats. This would allow farmers to mitigate losses and increase crop productivity if farmers apply a remedy with the first signs of disease emergence. “Time is of the essence for farmers, especially those in low-income countries, when crops are threatened by pests and disease. The grantees are creating innovative tools that detect pests and diseases early, providing farmers time to respond and protect their crops and livelihoods,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. If their concepts are successful, the three individuals awarded this grant will have the opportunity to compete among a larger pool of applicants for a $1,000,000 prize to transform crop pest and disease surveillance globally. Plants emit specific chemicals when attacked by insects or fungi. Dr. Hanseup Kim, associate professor at the University of Utah, received a $100,000 award to develop chemical sensors that can operate for a long period of time in a resource-limited environment. These sensors will alert farmers to the different types and stages of crop damage. Setting up existing pest incident monitoring networks in low-income countries is expensive and logistically challenging. Dr. Ritvik Sahajpal, assistant research professor at the University of Maryland College Park, received a $99,723 award to design a low-cost early warning system that combines machine learning algorithms, earth observation (EO) data and crop pest modeling to predict various crop threats. This system will be tested on maize and sorghum crops in Tanzania. The research team is also analyzing plant properties, temperature and soil moisture to estimate pre-harvest losses and determine crop losses from pests and fungi. Traditional crop pest and disease monitoring approaches, like drones, are costly and limited in their ability to provide accurate data across large regions. Paul Wagstaff, senior agriculture advisor at Self Help Africa in Ireland, received a $97,400 award to build an advanced algorithm that automatically analyzes satellite images for changes in leaf color and soil disruption to detect crop pests and disease. The “trained” algorithm is proposed to detect these subtle changes in satellite images, to allow pest damage to be distinguished from water and nutrient deficiencies and allow for rapid assessment of the degree of infestation across large areas, which to date has not been accomplished. ### 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: Colleen Klemczewski, 202-204-2605, cklemczewski@foundationfar.org


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  • FFAR Partners with FoodShot Global to Award 3 GroundBreaker Prizes

     NEW YORK and WASHINGTON (June 6, 2019) – Soil health research is critical to preserving the environment and increasing farmer yields and profitability. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and FoodShot Global awarded GroundBreaker Prizes to three individuals conducting trailblazing research that improves soil health and enhances soil management practices. FFAR contributed $110,000, which was matched by partner organizations for a total prize award of $535,000. This year’s inaugural Foodshot Global Challenge, Innovating Soil 3.0, recognizes rising scientific stars whose research supports a soil system capable of supporting ten billion people. Foodshot Global winners have identified technological and ecological tools that enable farmers to optimize yields and the long-term health of the land. Through this prize, all three recipients receive guidance, mentorship and resources to maximize the impact and scale of their research. “Soil health is at the root of an agricultural system capable of supporting a growing global population,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “This type of innovative research is needed to revolutionize global soil health. FFAR is proud to be part of this competition and to support this year’s winners.” The GroundBreaker Prize was awarded to Dr. Keith Paustian, Dr. Gerlinde de Devn and Dr. Dorn Cox: Dr. Paustian received a $250,000 GroundBreaker Prize to accelerate the global adaptation of his COMET-Farm tool systems. This specialized technology provides sustainability metrics that inform land management decisions and promote regenerative and conservation-based agricultural practices. These tools are increasingly used in the United States at the federal level to support conservation programs, at the state level to support soil health and carbon management policies, and by industry partners. Dr. Paustian aims to adapt the COMET systems to agricultural regions around the globe. Dr. Gerlinde de Devn received a $250,000 GroundBreaker Prize to determine soil components that enhance plant productivity, and allow for better absorption of nutrients, suppress disease and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Dr. de Devn’s research develops models that predict how plants engage with their environments, allowing researchers to efficiently produce nutritious food without stressing the environment. Dr. Dorn Cox was also awarded a $35,000 GroundBreaker “Seed” Prize to support his ambitious vision of using Open TEAM to collect environmental data,  providing access to comprehensive global agricultural knowledge to help growers make sustainable and profitable farm management decisions. Open TEAM, a technology ecosystem that leverages existing global open-source hardware and software, is in the development phase and aims to advance soil health through global community learning and aggregating best agricultural practices. The GroundBreaker Prize will increase the capacity of Open TEAM by incorporating on-the-ground technology support and extending outreach to other open source communities around the world. “I founded FoodShot Global envisioning a new way to harness the power of innovation, capital, and the collaborative spirit of the world’s leading stakeholders to effect change,” said Chairman and Founder of FoodShot Global Victor Friedberg. “We chose to start with soil because any future that imagines 10 billion people eating healthy and sustainably with equal access will require healthy soil. The three people we announced today are all groundbreakers whose inspired work lays the foundation for the next generation of solutions to the urgency we now face as a civilization. I couldn’t be more impressed and inspired by these inaugural FoodShot Global award winners and look forward to sharing what they’re doing with a larger audience.” FoodShot Global received 176 GroundBreaker Prize nominations from six continents and over 40 countries. These winners were judged by investors based on core criteria including their alignment with FoodShot Global’s mission of creating a healthier, more sustainable, more equitable food system; their connection to the Innovating Soil 3.0 challenge, the global relevance of their work, their ability to realize growth and scale, and their likelihood of facilitating future innovation and systemic change. ### About FoodShot Global Headquartered in New York, FoodShot Global is a non-profit investment platform founded by venture capitalist and co-founder of S2G Ventures, Victor Firedberg. FSG brings together a worldwide consortium of mission-aligned venture funds, banks, corporations, universities, and foundations to catalyze the success of global, transformative solutions to critical food and agriculture problems. FoodShot's annual Challenge identifies the most pressing obstacles to creating a healthy, sustainable, and equitable global food system. FoodShot Global Founding Partners include Rabobank, Generation Investment Management, Mars Edge, UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Builders Initiative, Armonia, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture as well as resource partners The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, Sall Family Foundation, Path Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Soil Health Institute, and venture partners S2G, ACRE, Activant Capital, ASW Ventures, Grantham Foundation and The Yield Lab. 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: Colleen Klemczewski, 202-204-2605, cklemczewski@foundationfar.org


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