The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research -- which will foster research, innovation and partnerships important to the U.S. agriculture economy -- is in the process of being formed. The formation of the new foundation is called for in the Agricultural Act of 2014, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on February 7.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will serve as an ex-officio director of the foundation. However, the foundation will operate independently from the U.S. government.

In a statement released on April 25, Vilsack announced he will appoint 15 members to the foundation’s board of directors and is soliciting nominations for members of that board. A notice seeking nominations will be published in the Federal Register.

According to Vilsack, the foundation will receive $200 million from the Commodity Credit Corporation to carry out its mission. The foundation will use this funding to support agricultural research activities when matched with an equal amount of non-federal funds. The foundation will address problems of national and international significance in plant and animal health, production, and products; food safety, nutrition, and health; renewable energy, natural resources, and the environment; agricultural and food security; agriculture systems and technology; and, agricultural economics and rural communities.

The foundation’s board of directors will establish policies and governance structures for the group. This will include hiring an executive director and evaluating the director's performance. Board members will be appointed to five-year terms; however, initial members will be appointed to shorter terms to provide a staggered rotation. Eight of the initial board members will be appointed for three-year terms and seven will be appointed for 2-year terms. Eight are to be nominated from a list provided by the National Academy of Sciences and seven will come from candidates nominated by the industry. Board members will not be compensated for their service, but they may be reimbursed for travel and subsistence. Board members are expected to have experience in agricultural research and represent divers sectors of agriculture.