Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University, has been named to the 15-member Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR) board of directors. Congress authorized the FFAR in the 2014 farm bill, recognizing the need to identify and develop new sources of revenue to support investments in U.S. agriculture research.
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.
In addition, FFAR fosters collaboration amongst agricultural researchers to address unmet and emerging research needs through grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, and memoranda of understanding.
"I'm extremely honored personally and on behalf of Mississippi State University to have this very meaningful opportunity for national service," said Keenum. "This appointment strengthens agricultural research from both public and private sources and will have a clearly defined national and global impact."
Keenum said the USDA appointment will allow MSU to be represented "in this vital process and that fact greatly enhances our university's status as a major player in national and global agricultural research efforts and activities."
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said “Studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research creates $20 in economic activity. 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 FFAR 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.
“This new Research Foundation is one of the most important victories in the farm bill,” said Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “We designed this foundation to leverage public-private dollars to continue making America the most productive and efficient agricultural producer in the world. America sets the gold standard for safe, abundant food production across the globe, and that’s largely because of a commitment to research and decades of investment in agricultural innovation and cutting edge practices. The appointment of board members is the first step in getting the new Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research up and running.”
Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, ranking member of the committee, said Keenum “will bring a breadth of knowledge and experience to this organization, which is challenged with forging stronger research partnerships to advance agriculture for Americans and the world. I am pleased that with Mark’s service, Mississippi’s agriculture know-how will be well represented on the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research.”
Cochran noted that Keenum’s knowledge of the federal legislative and executive branches of government, along with his background in university-based research and agriculture issues in Mississippi, would benefit the FFAR in promoting new partnerships among the agriculture research community, including USDA, nonprofit organizations, academia, corporations, industry and other entities.
Others appointed to the board include:
- Dr. Kathryn Boor -- the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University.
- Dr. Douglas Buhler -- Director of AgBioResearch and Senior Associate Dean for Research for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University.
- Dr. Nancy Creamer -- Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Community Based Food Systems, North Carolina State University.
- Dr. Deborah Delmer -- Professor Emeritus of Biology, University of California-Davis.
- The Honorable Dan Glickman -- former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, current Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Congressional Program.
- Dr. Robert Horsch -- Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Pamela Johnson -- Chairwoman, National Corn Growers Association.
- Dr. Michael Ladisch -- Director of the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University.
- Dr. Christopher Mallett -- Vice President of Research & Development, Cargill, Inc.
- Dr. Pamela Matson -- Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University.
- Dr. Terry McElwain -- Associate Director and Professor, Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, and Executive Director, Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Washington State University.
- Dr. Stanley Prusiner -- Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Professor of Neurology, University of California-San Francisco and 1997 Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine.
- Dr. Yehia “Mo” Saif -- Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University.
- Dr. Barbara Schaal -- Professor of Biology at the College of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Genetics at the Medical School, Washington University at St. Louis.