Keenum chosen vice chairman of FFAR board

Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum was elected by his fellow directors as vice chairman of the 15-member board of the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR) at the group’s inaugural meeting this fall.

Keenum was appointed to a three-year term on the FFAR board of directors last month by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack. Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Daniel R. “Dan” Glickman was selected FFAR’s chairman.

Upon learning of his election, Keenum said: “I am honored to have been selected vice chairman by my new colleagues on this important new panel. I look forward to serving in this capacity and working on initiatives that will have a tremendous impact on food and agricultural research now and for generations to come.”

At the group’s inaugural meeting, Keenum said the FFAR board adopted bylaws and voted to accept $200 million from the Commodity Credit Corporation to help establish the foundation.

Keenum is a graduate of MSU with degrees in agricultural economics, and he began his career at MSU as a faculty member with the Extension Service and the Department of Agricultural Economics, where his primary research and extension work focused on the marketing and economics of aquaculture, specialty crops and forestry. He went on to serve as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in Washington, DC and was Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture prior to returning home to Mississippi State.

Authorized by Congress as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, FFAR 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 FFAR 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.