The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is excited to announce the inaugural Foster Our Future – cultivate.discover.grow. the first of a kind event in Washington, DC on Feb. 5, 2019. This exciting event will feature speakers representing key sectors in the food and agriculture communities, including researchers, farmers, sustainability experts, policy makers, government officials, and others who will come together for interactive panels, chat, and farmer spotlights.

Speakers include those listed below with more names to be announced soon.

Foster Our Future

Rodolphe Barrangou

Associate Professor, Food Science, North Carolina State University
  information coming soon
Bill Buckner

Bill Buckner

President & Chief Executive Officer, Noble Research Institute

Bill Buckner is President and CEO of the Noble Research Institute, LLC and President of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. He earned his BS degree in Agricultural Economics from the Univ. of Missouri-Columbia in 1980.

In 1993, Buckner joined Bayer AG as a Marketing Executive. He moved to Monheim, Germany in 1996 and worked for the Animal Health Business Group as a Business Development Mgr. He became VP/General Mgr. of Bayer's Canadian Agricultural business in Toronto in 1998 and was appointed President/CEO of Bayer CropScience, Inc., in Calgary, Alberta in 2002. He relocated to Research Triangle Park, NC, as Sr. VP of Commercial Operations for Bayer CropScience LP in 2004 and was appointed Country Head for the U.S. Crop Protection business in 2005. He was elected President/CEO of Bayer CropScience, LP in April 2006 and retired in December 2011. Buckner serves on the boards of the Soil Health Institute (board chair), Wilbur-Ellis Company, the Farm Foundation, Trace Genomics, and on the Kirchner Food Fellowship Board of Advisors.

Peter Byck

Peter Byck

Professor, School of Sustainability and Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Arizona State University

Peter Byck is director, producer and writer of “Carbon Nation” and Professor of Practice at ASU, in the Schools of Sustainability & Journalism. Byck is now focusing on soil health – via short films: "Soil Carbon Cowboys" and in leading a large systems science project comparing regenerative grazing to conventional - measuring a whole suite of data from water retention to soil carbon to animal well-being and more. Byck has appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher and NPR’s Science Friday. He has shown "Carbon Nation" at the House of Commons; Boeing, Nike, Google, Microsoft, Shell, Walmart.com and more. Awards: “Garbage”, Best Documentary at SXSW; “Carbon Nation” Best Documentary, IVCA, London; “One Hundred Thousand Beating Hearts” Best Short Documentary at Cleveland International Film Festival and six more festivals.

Mara Liasson

Mara Liasson

National Political Correspondent, National Public Radio

Mara Liasson is the national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR’s award-winning newsmagazine “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.”

Each election year, Liasson provides key coverage of the candidates and issues in both presidential and congressional races. During her tenure, she has covered six presidential elections—from 1992 to 2012. Prior to her current assignment, Liasson was NPR’s White House correspondent for all eight years of the Clinton administration. She has won the White House Correspondent Association’s Merriman Smith Award for daily news coverage in 1994, 1995, and again in 1997.

Liasson is a graduate of Brown University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in American history. Having covered every major election and landmark political event for the past 20 years, Mara Liasson expertly discusses Washington’s changing political climate in riveting keynotes.

Jerry Lynch

Jerry Lynch

Chief Sustainability Officer, General Mills, Inc.

Jerry Lynch leads General Mills sustainability efforts globally. Lynch began his career at General Mills in 1995 and has served in various general management, marketing, and sustainability roles across the company globally. In addition to his day job, Lynch volunteers his time on the Food Recovery Network and the Board of Trustees of the Keystone Policy Center.

Lynch earned his Bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in 1984 and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 1995.

Mike McCloskey

Dr. Michael J. McCloskey

CEO of Select Milk Producers

Mike McCloskey is Co-Founder and CEO of Select Milk Producers, the sixth largest milk cooperative in the country. He is also Chairman of the Board for Fair Oaks Farms, the nation’s largest agritourism attraction located in Northwest Indiana. Dr. McCloskey’s home dairy is Prairies Edge Dairy Farms, also in Northwest Indiana, which milks 15,000 cows living in free-stall barns and is recognized as being the leading dairy in the U.S. from many perspectives. Prairies Edge Dairy Farms harvest their cow manure and through digesters create electricity to power their farms as well as creating bio-based CNG to fuel 42 milk trucks and thus displacing 2 million gallons of diesel use annually.

Dr. Sally Rockey

Dr. Sally Rockey

Executive Director, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

Dr. Sally Rockey became the inaugural Executive Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), in September 2015. Prior to this role, Dr. Rockey was a leader in Federal research, overseeing the operations of the extramural programs in both agriculture and biomedicine. She spent 19 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before taking on the extramural research program at the National Institutes of Health. As Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Dr. Rockey led groundbreaking initiatives and activities that have and will have a lasting positive impact on the research community. Dr. Rockey received her Ph.D. in Entomology from The Ohio State University and was recently named a fellow of the Entomological Society of America.


Karen Ross (Invited)

Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture
Michael Vance

Michael Vance

Vice President of Agriculture - B-29 Investments and
Managing Partner - Stark Ranch & Stark Farm to Market

Michael grew up on a small cattle and farming operation in Mississippi. He serves as the VP of Agriculture for B29 investments and manages a portfolio of investment ranches across 3 states while also serving as the managing partner for Stark Ranch, LLC. At Stark, Michael is responsible for building a registered red angus herd that is raised and performs in a forage-exclusive environment. Michael’s most recent project at Stark Ranch is vertically integrating into the beef business. Stark Farm to Market is a brick and mortar store-front that was created to satisfy local demands for highly-marbled grass-fed beef.

Previously, he managed ranches in Northern Oklahoma and marketed ranch properties after he obtained his real estate license. He earned his B.S. in Animal Science from Mississippi State University and his MBA from Oklahoma State University.