National Corn Growers Association Chairwoman Pam Johnson was among 15 men and women appointed today to the new Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research, which will leverage public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to boosting America's agricultural economy.
"Advancing American agriculture cannot be done without advancing the critical research to make sure we increase production in an economically and environmentally sustainable way," Johnson said. "As someone who has long held an interest in ag research and has long believed in its importance, I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve my country and my industry in this foundation."
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.
"We're delighted to see the foundation up and running and proud that Pam Johnson will serve on the board of directors," said NCGA President Martin Barbre. "The new Foundation for Food and Ag Research promises to be an important tool for greater innovation in agriculture, especially as we face the challenge of feeding a growing population. If they had to have only one farmer on the board, they certainly made the right decision!"
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.