Obama Picks First Director of New USDA Research Agency

September 25, 2009 Bookmark and Share

USDA announced this week that President Barack Obama has appointed Dr. Roger Beachy as the first director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), a new research agency created under the 2008 Farm Bill.

Beachy has been the founding president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis since 1999, overseeing the attraction of more than $75 million in research grants and more than 170 plant scientists as well as the establishment of a $100 million endowment.

Beachy earned his Ph.D. in plant pathology at Michigan State and held academic positions at Washington University in St. Louis and The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. prior to joining the Danforth Center.

The agency he will head, NIFA, was envisioned by the writers of the 2008 Farm Bill to be an agriculture research body similar to the National Institutes of Health that would replace the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES).

In related news, more than 45 agriculture, food and research organizations wrote members of agriculture appropriations subcommittee leadership in both chambers last week, urging them to maintain the $295 million in funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) allowed for in the Senate agriculture appropriations bill.

AFRI, also established in the 2008 Farm Bill, will be a competitive research grant program under the heading of NIFA. It is authorized to receive up to $700 million per year.

Both last week’s letters and previous letters on AFRI funding can be found at www.wheatworld.org/issues/research

More on Beachy is available at http://www.danforthcenter.org/newsmedia/NewsDetail.asp?nid=176