Ag research foundation hopes to lure private dollars into national pool

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WASHINGTON — Ohio State Professor Emeritus Mo Saif is one of 15 individuals appointed to serve on the board of the newly created Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the creation of the foundation and the appointment of a 15-member board of directors July 23.

Saif recently retired as the head of the Food Animal Health Research Program at Ohio State’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster.

Leverage research dollars

The new foundation will leverage public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research and innovation.

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.

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.

In addition to Saif, the other 14 voting members are:

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. Mark E. Keenum, president, Mississippi State University;
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;
Dr. Pamela Matson, Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences, 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. Barbara Schaal, dean of the faculty of arts & sciences and Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

The five ex-officio board members, all of whom were designated by Congress, are Vilsack; Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA’s Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and chief scientist; Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service; Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture; and Dr. France A. Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation.

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