• New USB-FFAR Partnership Boosts Protein in Soybeans

    USB and FFAR partnership provides more than $3 million in research funding to improve soybean protein content and quality.WASHINGTON (January 16, 2020) — A $3.2 million investment between the United Soybean Board and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is enhancing the U.S. soy industry’s competitive advantage, driving opportunities for American soybean farmers. This partnership specifically funds research to improve the protein content and quality of U.S. soybeans while protecting yield. “Leveraging USB funds in this manner with other public and private collaborators extends the reach and potential impact of USB investments, as well as increases buy-in from key value chain partners,” says USB Vice President of Meal Strategy Keenan McRoberts. “USB will continue to seek and act on opportunities like this to amplify the soy checkoff’s investment reach, impact and returns through critical partnerships and leveraged funding sources.” USB and FFAR are co-funding soybean research to support four projects:George Graef, with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is leading an interdisciplinary team to improve genetic diversity, seed composition and yield of soybeans using highly productive soybean genetic resources, breeding, genomics, and biotechnology to identify and understand key genes involved in soybean seed protein composition. It also includes developing soybeans capable of producing a 48% protein meal and 11 pounds of oil per bushel, with good amino acid balance and yield that meet or exceed yield of elite varieties in MG 0 to V. This project received $778,078 from USB and $651,673 from FFAR for a total award of $1,429,751, with funding available through September 2021. Rouf Mian, with USDA-North Carolina State University, is utilizing genetically diverse soybeans and wild relatives to develop new germplasm varieties with consistently elevated protein and yields comparable to commercial varieties. The project aims to release at least five soybean varieties capable of producing more than 48% meal protein and higher yields. The project received $810,114 from USB and $695,020 from FFAR for a total award of $1,505,134, with funding available through September 2020. Doug Allen, with USDA-Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, is identifying the novel amino acid composition genes in the mutant variety and taking advantage of a new analytical method to create a more nutritious soybean. Soybean meal, considered a gold standard to which most protein sources are compared, contains an inadequate amount of sulfur amino acids. Earlier research uncovered soybeans with enhanced sulfur-containing amino acids in a mutant variety. USB contributed $96,578 and FFAR invested $80,886 for a total award of $177,464, with funding available through September 2020. Yong-Qiang An, with USDA-Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, is identifying the genes that result in elevated protein and using them in breeding efforts of commercial soybean varieties. The identification and validation of these genes has the potential to create both a more nutritious soybean as well as a more profitable one for farmers. The project was awarded $86,468 from USB and $72,421 from FFAR for a total award of $158,889, with funding available through September 2020.“The protein content in soybeans, on average, is decreasing,” said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., FFAR’s executive director. “By partnering with USB, we are investing in research to increase the protein content of U.S. soybeans. This research not only helps U.S. soybean farmers remain competitive, but also adds additional protein to the food supply.” “Our goal is to meet the needs of U.S. soy customers around the globe who seek increased protein content and consistent, high-quality soybeans,” says USB Chair and Arkansas farmer Jim Carroll. “We also have a commitment to protect yields, which supports both environmental and financial sustainability.” FFAR has invested $1.5 million, and with matching funding from USB, this partnership is contributing more than $3 million to this research. These projects went through USB’s competitive FY20 funding process. In looking forward to 2021, USB’s FY21 Request for Pre-Proposals can be found at www.unitedsoybean.org/request-for-proposals. In addition to identifying ways to improve crude protein content and overall quality of U.S. soybeans, USB also anticipates the findings will help strengthen the U.S. soybean industry’s position in the marketplace, developing and expanding domestic and foreign markets. McRoberts adds, “Protein is the fundamental building block of our food supply, and a Protein First approach, extending access to plant- and animal-based foods with this key macronutrient, is a priority for the U.S. soy community.” ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, 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. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking United Soybean Board United Soybean Board’s 78 farmer-directors work on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers to achieve maximum value for their soy checkoff investments. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds in programs and partnerships to drive soybean innovation beyond the bushel and increase preference for U.S. soy. That preference is based on U.S. soybean meal and oil quality and the sustainability of U.S. soybean farmers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff. For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit unitedsoybean.org.


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  • International Consortium for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Agriculture (ICASA) Issues Call for Research Concepts

    WASHINGTON (January 15, 2020) -- Maintaining the efficacy of antibiotics affects both human and animal health and is a priority for livestock producers. The International Consortium for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Agriculture (ICASA), one of the largest public-private partnerships focused on antibiotic stewardship in animal agriculture, is soliciting calls for research concepts on animal-health monitoring and diagnostic technologies. Antibiotics are essential to preventing, treating and controlling disease in livestock production. The responsible use of antibiotics impacts the entire supply chain and is complicated by additional factors such as genetics, nutrition, infectious diseases and environmental stressors. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) created ICASA in 2019 to facilitate research that promotes the judicious use of antibiotics, advances animal health and welfare, and increases transparency in food production practices. ICASA improves antibiotic stewardship by building cross-sector partnerships among participants representing all stages of the US livestock supply chain. Through the Consortium’s first call for Letters of Intent (LOI), ICASA participants are seeking to collaborate to advance stewardship and improve health outcomes for livestock. Specifically, LOIs should describe concepts for the development, improvement and/or validation of animal-health monitoring or rapid in-field, pen-side or animal-side diagnostic tools. These technologies can be early-stage or close-to-market and must have potential for implementation by commercial livestock producers. Concepts must be relevant to beef cattle, pigs and/or poultry. Projects should describe how their work will improve antimicrobial stewardship in animal production, reduce the potential for resistance and/or provide actionable information to antimicrobial-prescribers. Meritorious research concepts will be invited to submit a full proposal, with the potential for up to $250,000 in research funding and/or access to commercial livestock production facilities. Additional contributions are allowed. “Leveraging knowledge and resources from diverse organizations will advance antibiotic stewardship and improve health outcomes for livestock,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “FFAR is thrilled that ICASA’s fourteen participating companies are soliciting these novel and potentially high-impact research concepts.” LOIs are due February 26, 2020 and must be submitted via FFAR’s online portal. Applications will be reviewed by ICASA participants and will be evaluated on a variety of factors including potential for supply chain implementation, potential for impact, likelihood for successful completion, originality, key personnel qualifications and strength of partnerships. ### About the International Consortium for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Agriculture The International Consortium for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Agriculture (ICASA) is a public-private partnership created by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) to advance research on antimicrobial stewardship in animal agriculture. ICASA’s research promotes the judicious use of antibiotics, advances animal health and wellness, and increases transparency in food production practices. FFAR’s initial $7.5 million investment is matched by the ICASA participants for a total investment of $15 million in antimicrobial stewardship research. ICASA’s founding participants include: Advanced Animal Diagnostics, the Beef Alliance, Cactus Research, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, HyPlains Research and Education Center, JBS USA, McDonald’s, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Board, the Noble Research Institute, Pipestone Veterinary Services, Tyson Foods, US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and Veterinary Research and Consulting Services.


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  • FFAR Seeks Nominations for 2020 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award

    2020 New Innovator awardees will not be required to secure matching fundsWASHINGTON (January 8, 2020) – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is now accepting nominations for the 2020 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award. FFAR intends to grant up to ten Awards to early-career scientists pursuing research that supports the Foundation’s Challenge Areas and promotes global, sustainable food production. Each applicant is eligible to receive up to $150,000 per year for a maximum of three years totaling $450,000 from FFAR. For the first time, FFAR is not requiring awardees to secure matching funds, opening this opportunity to a wider pool of applicants.   The New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award provides early-career scientists the investment needed to bolster their successful careers in food and agriculture. FFAR grants this unique award to highly creative, promising scientists whose research has the potential to address major challenges facing food and agriculture. Often early-career scientists struggle to secure grant funding at the onset of their careers. This award gives them the opportunity to focus exclusively on research without the pressure to secure additional funding for these particular ideas. “Investing in scientific workforce development is a cornerstone of FFAR’s mission, and the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award exemplifies the Foundation’s recognition that funding ‘cream of the crop’ early-career scientists is one of the best ways to assure innovation in our future,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “For the first time, FFAR itself is providing matching funds for these awards, which may mean more institutions will participate.” Institutions of higher education, nonprofit research institutions and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are encouraged to nominate one applicant who holds tenure-track or equivalent position and meets the eligibility criteria specified in the Call for Nominations.  Applications from eligible nominees will be evaluated on their research program proposals as well as a demonstrated commitment to mentoring future generations of agricultural and food scientists. The deadline for submitting nominations is March 4, 2020 at 5:00 pm ET. Complete submission guidelines and program deadlines are available on the FFAR website.  ### 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.


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  • Danita Rodibaugh Joins FFAR Board of Directors

    WASHINGTON (December 16, 2019) – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is honored to announce that Danita Rodibaugh, farmer and agricultural advocate, is joining the Board of Directors. “Danita Rodibaugh has had an illustrious career in advancing agriculture,” said President of Mississippi State University and FFAR Chairman of the Board Dr. Mark Keenum. “Her admirable involvement in the pork industry will be much appreciated as we advance animal agriculture through innovative technologies and environmentally-sound practices.” Rodibaugh brings more than 40 years of experience in the pork industry. She currently serves as a member on the Board of Advisors for FLM Harvest, a strategic consulting, marketing and communications agency for clients in agriculture. Rodibaugh also manages the office of her family’s farm, Rodibaugh & Sons. Rodibaugh is a true agriculture leader. She was elected as President of the National Pork Board in 2005, after serving as a member of the board for 5 years. She chaired the Board of the U.S. Meat Export Federation and served on the Executive Committee. Rodibaugh has held many state and national positions, including serving as a member of both the Indiana State Department of Agriculture Advisory Board and Purdue University Dean of Agriculture’s Advisory Board. She chaired environmental committees and the taskforce to write the Ethical Principles of Pork Production. Her accolades also include being awarded the Distinguished Service Award for the U.S. Meat Export Federation in 2019, and was named a Masters of the Pork Industry, a special, hand-picked group of pork industry visionaries, in 2009. Rodibaugh is a seasoned farmer who grew up on a family farm in Greentown, Indiana. She holds a BS in Consumer & Family Sciences/Education from Purdue University. “I am thrilled to welcome Danita Rodibaugh to FFAR’s Board of Directors. Her experience with and knowledge of the pork industry, as well as her perspectives as a farmer, will be integral in helping FFAR advance pioneering research,” remarked FFAR Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. ### About the 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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  • Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and Kirchner Food Fellowship Renew Collaboration

    Pioneering Impact Investment program trains and supports the next generation of capital allocatorsBIRMINGHAM and WASHINGTON (December 10, 2019) – Today the Kirchner Impact Foundation announced the second year of its successful collaboration with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and North Carolina State University to support the 2019-2020 cohort of the Kirchner Food Fellowship, a program supporting young agriculture financiers. FFAR and North Carolina State University are providing matching funds and technical expertise to prepare the fellows to make critical agriculture business investment decisions. Innovative business investment is critical to solving the mounting food and agriculture challenges. While the amount of investment capital focusing on social and environmental impact is increasing rapidly, global access to this capital is not. One solution is to successfully train future financiers to invest in early-stage innovations that can transform global food production. The Kirchner Food Fellowship program was established to fill this critical gap and support agriculture-related businesses. The Kirchner Food Fellowship trains university students each year to evaluate agriculture business investments and gives them discretion over investment decisions for companies solving critical food and agriculture challenges. The focus of this year’s fellowship program is on improving water and soil health. “We are pleased to continue our collaboration with FFAR given their important role in the agriculture and food sector,” commented Blair Kirchner, Director of the program. “As we continue to scale the fellowship internationally it is important to build strong relationships with organizations that share our mission and vision. The Fellows work directly with the Kirchner leadership team, and its network of thought leaders, to engage in a series of face-to-face and online educational experiences that expose them to real-world early-stage investment scenarios. “In addition to funding research, FFAR invests in the next generation of food and agriculture scientists. We are excited by the collaboration that results from partnering the Kirchner Fellows with the FFAR Fellows in Agricultural Sciences, another FFAR scientific workforce development program,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “It is highly rewarding to see the collaboration and networking between these two FFAR-funded programs, which ultimately strengthens the future food and agriculture’s scientific workforce.” The Kirchner, FFAR and NCSU collaboration encourages innovation and agricultural productivity by partnering Kirchner Fellows with FFAR Fellows in Agricultural Sciences, a fellowship supporting the research and professional development of future food and agriculture scientists. Cross-collaboration between the Kirchner Food Fellows – FFAR cohort and the FFAR Fellows can more effectively identify and evaluate early-stage innovations in agriculture technology that benefit farmers and are profitable for investors. The 2019-2020 Kirchner Food Fellowship – FFAR Cohort Fellows are:Laura Zaim: Zaim is pursuing her MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a focus in finance. As Venture Partner at New Crop Capital, she helps bring alternative proteins to market by investing in and mentoring early stage vegan food companies. Brennan Costello: Costello is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration. Costello is a member of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, empowering students and entrepreneurs in the Midwest. Ephrem Tesfaye Woldegiorgis: Woldegiorgis is studying at American University’s School of International Service (SIS) pursuing a Master’s in International Development with an emphasis on agriculture, rural development and rural economic institutions in Sub Saharan Africa.In addition to FFAR, the Kirchner Food Fellowship – FFAR cohort is made possible through the support of Kirchner Group, a boutique firm that provides advisory, operational and M&A support to small and medium sized businesses as well as asset management services with a particular focus on the agriculture and food sector. ### 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 Kirchner Food Fellowship The Kirchner Food Fellowship is a pioneer in the lean investment movement, harnessing the power of highly-committed millennial talent to find, fund and assist promising socially-responsible, for-profit agricultural businesses. Through the use of a “real-world, real-time, real money” model the program has proven that it is possible for newly formed investment teams to become effective venture capital allocators in a matter of months. The combination of compressed learning time frames and low operating costs makes it possible to more cost effectively deploy smart and impactful capital in parts of the world were angel capital is needed most, leading some to describe the program as “Peace Corps meets VC”. For more on the program please visit www.fundthefood.com and our recent AgFunder article. The Kirchner Food Fellowship is an initiative of The Kirchner Impact Foundation (501 (c) (3)) one of the “returning arms” of Kirchner Group, that focuses on harnessing the positive power of enterprise to make a difference in addressing some of the most important issues of today. www.kirchnerimpact.com Steve Dauphin | Director | +1 205.602.9845 | sdauphin@kirchnerimpact.com Kirchner Group Kirchner Group was founded in 1985 as a boutique advisory firm and today operates various subsidiaries, providing advisory services (M&A, assessments, diligence) and operational support (interim management, workouts, turnarounds) as well as asset management (dedicated, portfolio optimization) – all leveraging a proprietary approach that dovetails domain and process expertise. Throughout the decades Kirchner Group has been internationally recognized for its unique business model centered around creating value while promoting values: “earning while returning”. The firm has also established a reputation for building and rebuilding important business and social paradigms based on its deep entrepreneurial orientation. Kirchner Group’s clients and partners include early stage to mid-market companies, venture capital and private equity firms as well as family offices and some of the world’s largest insurance companies, commercial banks and institutional investors. www.kirchnergroup.com Blair Kirchner | Managing Director & Co-Head of Impact Activities | +1 902.817.2405 | bgkirchner@kirchnergroup.com


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  • Irrigation Innovation Consortium (IIC) Funds Seven Research Projects

    Each project involves collaboration of industry and IIC university partners.LAS VEGAS, NEV (December 5, 2019) -- The Irrigation Innovation Consortium (IIC), a university and industry collaboration that accelerates the development and adoption of water and energy efficient irrigation technologies, announced funding for seven research projects in 2020. The announcement came during a public session about the IIC at the Irrigation Association’s annual Irrigation Show and Education Week currently underway in Las Vegas, Nevada. Launched in 2018 by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) with a $5 million contribution, IIC participants contribute matching support to generate at least $10 million supporting research and collaboration over five years. IIC was formed to promote and enhance water and energy efficiency in irrigation, and ultimately create greater resiliency in food and agriculture. Through the IIC, industry and the public sector co-develop, test, prototype and improve equipment, technology, and decision and information systems. This research is equipping farms of the future with cutting-edge technology that enhances irrigation efficiency. Projects were selected through a competitive review process that weighed and prioritized projects according to scientific merit, novelty, level of industry involvement, and inter-institution collaboration, among other factors. “The proposal review process has resulted in a robust portfolio of funded proposals that fit IIC’s mission goals of advancing knowledge, tools, and available technologies and practices that can transform and improve irrigation efficiency,” said Dr. LaKisha Odom, IIC Research Steering Committee Chair and a FFAR Scientific Program Director. Projects selected for funding though the IIC’s call for proposals this year are:Advancing Development of the Parallel 41 Flux Network for Real-Time Evapotranspiration Monitoring (Principal Investigator: Christopher Neale, University of Nebraska-Lincoln) Deployment and Maintenance of Flux Towers in Kansas to be Integrated to the Parallel 21 Flux Networks to Support Multi-State Real-Time Evapotranspiration Estimates (Principal Investigator: Eduardo Santos, Kansas State University) Optimizing Irrigation of Turfgrass Using Sensors, IOT, Lora Technology and Artificial Intelligence (Principal Investigator: Jay Hamm, Colorado State University) Toward pivot automation with proximal sensing for Maize and Soybean in the Great Plains (Principal Investigator: Derek Heeren, University of Nebraska-Lincoln) A Remote Sensing Approach to Identify Critical Areas in CA Orchards for Improving Irrigation Water Management through Precision Agriculture Technology (Principal Investigator Dilruba Yeasmin, University of California, Fresno)The consortium also selected two “industry pitch” projects, a new option this year to encourage projects initiated by industry members:An Economic Impact Study of the Irrigation Industry (Principal Investigator: John Farner, Irrigation Association) Connecting field scale performance to watershed health: the added power of sharing data/Calculating producer water use in real time (Principal Investigator: John Heaston, Aquamart)IIC Project Director Reagan Waskom noted, “the industry driven project pitches increase the industry participation and drive university researchers to increased collaboration and meaningful impacts.” Members of the IIC research network provided updates at the annual Irrigation Association show Las Vegas on current research and innovation projects underway at the participating universities. The Irrigation Innovation Consortium is composed of the following members: Aqua Engineering Inc.; University of California, Fresno; Climate Corporation; Colorado State University; Colorado Corn; Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska; the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research; Hunter; Irrigation Association; Jain Irrigation; Kansas State Research and Extension; Kansas State University; Li-Cor; Lindsay Corporation; Northern Water; Rubicon Water; Senninger Irrigation Inc.; Toro; Texas A&M AgriLife Research; Valmont; Vertical Irrigation; Watertronics; and Western Sugar. For more information about the IIC, visit https://irrigationinnovation.org/. ### 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 Grant to Address Reemergence of Costly Viral Turkey Disease

    WASHINGTON (November 25, 2019) – Turkey arthritis reovirus (TARV) is a poultry virus that infects up to 70 percent of US turkey flocks and has been reported in all turkey producing states. The disease causes lameness in turkeys and economic losses for producers. While arthritis reovirus in chickens is well documented, little is known about TARV transmission. To understand TARV, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), along with Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council and the University of Minnesota, awarded a $100,000 Rapid Outcomes from Agriculture Research (ROAR) grant to the University of Minnesota to track how the virus is spread and when to best administer a preventative vaccine. “Turkey welfare and producers’ bottom lines are negatively affected by TARV,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “This research will inform the next generation of TARV mitigation techniques, improve animal welfare and protect a Thanksgiving staple.” TARV was briefly an issue for turkey producers in the 1980s, but the condition disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. The virus reemerged in 2011, causing lameness, as well as swelling and increased fluid in one or both hocks, a turkey’s leg joint. This leads to substantial economic losses for producers through increased culling and mortality, increased condemnation rates, poor feed efficiency and low rates of weight gain. When clinical signs of TARV reappeared in 2011, autogenous vaccines were developed to stave off the infection. However, many vaccines are now ineffective as the virus strain has evolved. University of Minnesota researchers are studying five groups of TARV-infected turkeys at different ages to determine when the turkeys are susceptible to the infection, how the virus spreads and if there is an age at which they are no longer susceptible to the virus. Ultimately, this information will inform vaccination strategies, clarify when young turkeys should be vaccinated and how pens should be arranged or cleaned to prevent TARV’s spread. The US is expected to produce more than 240 million turkeys this year, and Minnesota will lead the way by with a projected 40 million birds raised on 600 farms, creating over 30,000 jobs. This research effort 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. FFAR contributed $49,000 to this $100,000 effort, with matching funds from Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council and the University of Minnesota. ### 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 and Open Philanthropy Announce Six Egg-Tech Prize Winners

    WASHINGTON (November 22, 2019) – Today, at the Poultry Tech Summit in Atlanta, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Open Philanthropy Project announced the winners of Phase I of the Egg-Tech Prize, a competition to develop a technology that can accurately and rapidly determine a chick’s sex as early as possible in the egg production process. FFAR awarded $1,056,957 to six organizations for Phase I of the Egg-Tech Prize. The Open Philanthropy Project provided matching funding for a total prize amount of $2,113,915. Only female chicks are used for egg production. The male chicks cannot lay eggs and are unsuitable for consumption due to poor growth performance and meat quality. Thus, male chicks are culled soon after hatching, a process known as male chick culling. The practice presents animal welfare concerns, hinders farmer profitability and wastes resources. The challenge, however, is that chicks cannot be sexed until after they hatch, which requires producers to devote time and resources to incubating the male eggs, only to cull them. The Egg-Tech Prize incentivizes companies and individuals to develop a technology that can determine the sex of an egg before it hatches and allow male eggs to be diverted to food or animal supply chains or for use in vaccine production. This would solve the issue of male chick culling and improve the sustainability of egg production worldwide. “Ending the practice of male chick culling is a global concern that is of critical importance to egg producers and animal welfare groups alike,” said Dr. Tim Kurt, FFAR’s Advanced Animal Systems Scientific Program Director. “We are thrilled with the caliber of proposals we received from 10 countries to develop revolutionary technology that accurately predicts the sex of eggs in a timely manner. The successful development of this technology will boost egg producer profitability, improve animal welfare and add billions of eggs to the food supply.” The Egg-Tech Prize is divided into two distinct phases. Phase I provides the seed funding to develop the necessary technology to compete for the Prize. In Phase II, the Prize Competition, contestants will develop and validate a working prototype that meets the Phase II criteria, which were announced today on the Egg-Tech Prize webpage. FFAR will accept Phase II submissions in early 2021. Contestants do not need to participate in Phase I of the competition to apply for or receive an award in Phase II. The Phase I Egg-Tech Prize winners are:Abdennor Abbas with the University of Minnesota is receiving a $400,000 award to use an artificial intelligence platform for rapid and non-invasive egg sex identification. All organisms release trace gases in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other molecules. Abbas is using a 3D scanner to analyze the geometric shape of the eggs and proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) to analyze the VOCs. Additionally, 3D analysis with machine learning will allow researchers to recognize and identify egg sex based on various geometric parameters. Pedro Gomez with Orbem Ai is receiving a $400,000 award, which is matched by outside contributors for a total of $1,149,911, to develop specialized technology that automatically scans and classifies eggs without touching them. Gomez is using accelerated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology with advanced artificial intelligence. This MRI approach allows Gomez to examine the organ development of embryos to detect physical differences between the males and females, without penetrating the shell. John Humphrey with Microscale Devices LLC is receiving a $251,459 award, which is matched by outside contributors for a total of $416,459, to use multidimensional spectral mapping technology to identify the sex of eggs from 0-12 days of incubation. This technology shoots different wave lengths of light at the egg and detects the refracted light patterns. Artificial intelligence will be employed to develop an optical fingerprint, or signature, that can determine the sex of eggs in less than five seconds. Jeroen Lammertyn with KU Leuven is receiving a $315,370 award, which is matched by outside contributors for a total of $650,842, to use a gender specific volatile detection technique to determine sex in ovo. Lammertyn is developing a non-invasive ovo sexing technique that registers volatile organic compounds passing that pass through the eggshell during incubation. Lammertyn is using specialized sensor technology, gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) to analyze the VOCs. Adam Rivers with USDA-ARS is receiving a $396,762 award to use fiber optics and machine learning for analysis of volatiles toward in ovo sex determination. Rivers is also using proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS), a sensor designed to detect and analyze the VOC’s composition at a rate of 2000 samples per hour, to analyze the differences between male and female eggs. Thomas Turpen with SensIT Ventures, Inc. is receiving a $400,000 award to develop a microchip-based chemical sensor for early-stage in ovo sex determination. Turpen is capturing and characterizing gases released from individual eggs as soon as possible during storage and incubation. Researchers are developing a chemical sensor chip to detect the VOCs and using machine learning to classify the eggs by gender."We’re excited to see the industry paying more attention to this major animal welfare challenge," said Lewis Bollard, Open Philanthropy's program officer for farm animal welfare. "We hope this work helps the egg industry to make good on its pledge to end the culling of day-old male chicks." The winner of the $4.5 million Egg-Tech Prize in Phase II will be announced in 2021. ### 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. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking Open Philanthropy Open Philanthropy 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. Through research and grantmaking, it hopes to learn how to make philanthropy go especially far in terms of improving lives. Connect: @open_phil


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  • FFAR Joins Consortium to Establish Ecosystem Markets for Agriculture

    Ecosystem Services Market Consortium rewards farmers for climate-smart farming methodsWASHINGTON (November 19, 2019) – Climate change is threatening food security and farmer livelihoods, however, implementing climate-smart farming practices that reduce emissions will help farmers thrive—not just survive. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) contributed $10.3 million to the Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC) to establish a $20 million research arm for the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, an innovative collaboration that is creating a functional ecosystem services market that will launch and be fully operational in 2022. The ecosystems market will pay and recognize farmers and ranchers who adopt conservation management practices that improve soil health and water usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; this research consortium will provide the research necessary to create a scaled, efficient, cost-effective marketplace that works for farmers and ranchers. The agriculture sector accounts for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, through an ecosystem services market, agriculture can mitigate up to 89 percent of its emissions by incentivizing farming practices that sequester carbon in the soil. According to the 2018 report from the New Climate Economy: The next 2-3 years are a critical window to make an impact on climate change. The report recommends several priorities that need immediate action, including carbon pricing and private sector involvement.  ESMRC, the research arm of the Consortium, was formed to advance research that supports an ecosystem services market that incentivizes farmers and ranchers to improve on-farm production practices. The Research Consortium delivers a partner-driven framework that will catalyze the creation of the national ESM program and convene experts to enhance the economic and environmental resilience of our food supply. “Farmers and agriculture can be a constructive force in reversing climate change and preserving natural resources.  Farmers are the largest group of land stewards and when they implement climate-smart practices, it helps us all,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “I expect this consortium to be at the center of creating new value for these practices and bringing that value back to the farmers who are so deserving to be compensated for their good work. FFAR is thrilled to be the major funder of this unique effort.” The ESMRC is working to achieve the following objectives:Establish a functioning ESM protocol for ecosystem services (carbon, water quality and water quantity) Identify agricultural management system impacts on ecosystem services Develop innovative advanced learning techniques to improve ecosystem services monitoring and quantification Institute an online platform that tracks and quantifies changes in ecosystem services data Standardize data collection Quantify carbon sequestration capacity of agricultural soils“We are excited and honored to welcome FFAR to the Research arm of the Consortium”, said ESMC’s Executive Director, Debbie Reed. “This public-private partnership is a true win for US farmers and ranchers who will be paid for the services they deliver, and will help scale carbon drawdown. This market will provide the tools, support and buyers to recognize and reward farmers who increase soil carbon sequestration, reduce GHG, and improve water quality and water use conservation. ESMC’s outcomes-based market brings together the collaborators needed to ensure a viable market well into the future.” Along with measurable improvements to the environment, forming a viable ecosystem services market will benefit farmers and ranchers in several ways. The program will help improve farm management practices that enhance overall operational efficiency in the form of higher yields, increased resiliency to severe climate shifts, and improved water and soil quality. The intended impact of this effort is to enroll 30 percent of available land in the top four crop regions and top four pasture regions to impact 250 million acres by 2030 and 650 million acres by 2050 in outcomes-based conservation practices. “As a sixth-generation Kansas farmer, increasing soil health and resiliency has always been important to my family and me,” said Charles Atkinson, an American Soybean Association Board member who raises soybeans with his father and son on 1,000 acres in Southeast Kansas near Columbus. “We applaud FFAR’s funding to ESMC to develop a market to pay producers for conservation practices we establish on our land to sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gases and increase water quality and quantity. The research to be conducted with FFAR’s support is a critical part of the equation in making ecosystem markets successful.” FFAR’s contribution to ESMC adds to contributions made by the Noble Research Institute, General Mills Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Research Conservation Service and the United Soybean Board. ### About the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium LLC was formed in May 2019 and is a subsidiary of the Soil Health Institute. ESMC’s mission is to advance ecosystem service markets that incentivize farmers and ranchers to improve soil health systems that benefit society. ESMC LLC is a member-based organization launching a national scale ecosystem services market for agriculture to recognize and reward farmers and ranchers for their environmental services to society. ESMC members represent the spectrum of the agricultural sector supply chain with whom we are scaling sustainable agricultural sector outcomes, including increased soil carbon, reduced net greenhouse gases, and improved water quality and water use conservation.


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  • FFAR Grant Aims to Halt Spread of Invasive Tick Species

    “The three life stages of the Asian longhorned tick as collected in Tennessee, from left to right: adult female, nymph and larva. Photo by R. T. Trout Fryxell, courtesy UTIA.WASHINGTON (November 14, 2019) – The invasive Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis), a foreign parasite that can transmit a variety of blood-borne pathogens, is spreading rapidly in the US. While Asian longhorned ticks found in the US have yet to test positive for pathogens, their increasing prevalence threatens American farmers, livestock, companion animals and wildlife. In response to this threat, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $150,000 Rapid Outcomes from Agriculture Research (ROAR) grant to the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) to map the tick’s spread and develop response strategies to protect farmers, ranchers and their animals. As the name implies, the Asian longhorned tick is native to China, Japan, Korea and other parts of Asia. The tick arrived in the US in 2017 and was initially found in locations that did not have a clear connection to Asia; but experts are not clear on how the tick came to the US. As of this September, the parasite has been detected in twelve states, from Connecticut to Arkansas. The tick multiplies quickly thanks to asexual reproduction and is capable of rapid infestation of fields and host animals. One female can start a population, and to date, no males have been found in the US. The ticks feed in large population clusters, overwhelming their victims and surprised observers by extracting enough blood to cause anemia in grown livestock and death in young animals. “The Asian longhorned tick landed in the US seemingly without explanation and has moved quickly though New England, the Mid-Atlantic and now the Southeast. Adding to our concern, not much is known about this parasite,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR executive director. “We have a rare opportunity to address this infestation now, before the Asian longhorned tick begins spreading pathogens. This grant is taking the first steps to curb the threat by mapping its spread and arming farmers with mitigation strategies.” To address this threat, University of Tennessee researchers are collaborating with academic, government and industry stakeholders to develop a tick-surveillance network. Members of this network include Tennessee Departments of Agriculture and Health, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and United States Department of Agriculture (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Research Service, Forest Service and Veterinary Services), as well as, local animal shelters, producers, livestock markets, and Extension agents. The researchers are also enhancing awareness, evaluating control methods and identifying predictors associated with its presence. The researchers are developing prevention, detection and response strategies, as well as educational materials to help detect and eliminate the Asian longhorned tick. This project is enhancing awareness about this pest and empowering stakeholders to make informed pest management decisions. “Funding from FFAR, along with technical and resource support from our partners, has helped us detect this invasive tick species in eight Tennessee counties,” said Dr. Rebecca Trout Fryxell, a medical and veterinary entomologist in the UTIA Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology and research lead for this project. “We are finding them on both canines and cattle. By working with local producers, we are learning more about the life cycle of this species, and specifically when and where it is found on a farm. To address this threat, we have been busy increasing awareness. We are excited to start identifying solutions in the spring, when nymph populations are expected to be most problematic.” This year-long research effort 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. University of Tennessee contributed $150,000 to this $300,000 effort, matching FFAR’s contribution to this important research. ### 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 The University of Tennessee Institute of AgricultureThrough its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu.


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