Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the creation of the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR) and the appointment of a 15-member board of directors. The new foundation will leverage public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to boosting America's agricultural economy.
Authorized by Congress as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, the foundation will operate as a non-profit corporation seeking and accepting private donations in order to fund research activities that focus on problems of national and international significance. Congress also provided $200 million for the foundation which must be matched by non-federal funds as the Foundation identifies and approves projects.
"Studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research creates $20 in economic activity," said Vilsack. "Investments in innovation made over the past several decades have developed new products and new procedures that have been critical to the continued growth of American agriculture. We must continue to make strategic investments in research and technology if we are to remain leaders in the global economy."
The research funded by the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research will address issues including plant and animal health; food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources, and environment; agricultural and food security; and agriculture systems and technology.
The foundation's board of directors was chosen to represent the diverse sectors of agriculture. Seven of these board members were selected by the unanimous vote of the board's five ex-officio members from lists of candidates provided by industry, while eight representatives were unanimously elected from a list of candidates provided by the National Academy of Sciences. Congress mandated that the ex-officio members choose the initial 15 board members from among the lists provided by these two groups. However, new board members now have the option of adding additional members if they so choose. Secretary Vilsack said today he hoped the board would exercise its prerogative to add more members to expand the board's diversity.
In announcing the 15-member FFAR board today, Vilsack remarked, "Public-private partnerships are vital to the agricultural research community, and this is reflected in the membership of the foundation's board of directors."