The Idaho Wheat Commission announced late last week it will create two faculty research endowments at the University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and participate in a public-private partnership that also includes the College and Limagrain Cereal Seeds.
The endowments will be worth $2 million over time and will fund wheat breeding and wheat agronomist professorships located at the University’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center.
The Commission is the quasi-state agency that collects and invests Idaho wheat checkoff dollars to support the state’s 4,500 wheat growers and their $766 million-per-year harvest.
The new professorships will enhance a separate partnership announced between Limagrain Cereal Seeds and the College to breed new wheat varieties for the Pacific Northwest region.
Limagrain Cereal Seeds is a joint venture between the France-based Limagrain Group, the largest cereal seed company in Europe, and Arcadia Biosciences, a U.S. biotech company.
Under the new public-private partnership, both the College and the company are expected to contribute germplasm, technology and expertise to more rapidly develop varieties with improved productivity and tolerance to diseases and stress. While financial terms of agreement were not disclosed, the Commission said Limagrain will also fund a significant endowment for cropping systems research and graduate training at the university.
In making the endowment and public-private partnership announcements, the Wheat Commission also said that the College has committed to further assist the grain industry by reallocating resources to cereal research and extension capacity, which were hard hit during the severe economic downturn of the past several years.
The Commission said the strategic and collaborative partnerships will enable the college to fill two cropping positions in the coming year, one each in Moscow and Aberdeen, along with a plant nutrition position. To further improve adaptation of new wheat varieties in northern Idaho, an area-wide extension educator position will be filled to support cereal agronomic and yield test sites in northern Idaho.
“Wheat growers of Idaho are very aware of how important research is to our bottom line,” said Gordon Gallup of Ririe, chairman of the Idaho Wheat Commission. “If wheat is to remain competitive in our state and region, growers of Idaho must look to public/private partnerships, as well as requiring increased efficiencies in our public research programs.”
The announcements out of Idaho are the latest in a stream of new wheat research investments since 2008. Since that time, many in the business and governmental sectors around the world have recognized a reality growers have known for years: more money and more efficiency are needed within wheat research to help keep the crop competitive and feed a growing global population. A briefer outlining recent announcements is at http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/biotech-research-announcements-since-2008-20111003.pdf.
The full Idaho Wheat Commission release is at http://idahowheat.org/.