KATHRYN BOOR: Thank you all for being here this afternoon. We have an opportunity to speak with Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack who is visiting here at Cornell University to talk about a wide ranging set of issues that are critically important to the ability of us to feed our global population, to have clean water, to have good food, good nutritious food, as we look to the future, and a wide range of other issues as we're dealing with the changing climate.
And so I'd like to turn the conversation over to Secretary Vilsack.
TOM VILSACK: Dean, thanks very much. And it's just great to be on one of the great land grant university campuses here in the United States doing remarkable work, particularly in the dairy industry, which is so important to upstate New York and so important to the entire country in terms of our ag productivity and export opportunities.
We're here today to have an interesting conversation about a great university doing work in a variety of areas. And I think it puts an emphasis on partnerships, the connection between the United States Department of Agriculture and its research initiatives and Cornell and their activities.
In the past, we've had basically two ways that we've intersected with this great university. Our ARS labs, which are internal research labs that USDA financed through our budget often do collaborative work with universities, often are located on university campuses, and produce great, great work.
Then we have our National Institute of Food and Agriculture that was stood up a couple of years ago under the 2008 Farm Bill. And it's designed to provide some formula funding to universities so that they can do a lot of the basic work in extension and education outreach.
But then there's a competitive grant process in which Cornell, and frankly, the universities in New York have done pretty well. In the last five or six years, the state of New York has received-- their universities have received about $270 million through those formula grants and through those competitive grants. Cornell, I think, has received somewhere between 40% and 50% of those resources. So a good collaborative partnership between the universities and USDA.
What's been missing is the ability to complement that with a private sector-operated research effort, similar to what happens in the health care field. And so the 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed by the president, established a new foundation, a new research foundation. It will be run by a 15-person board. It will be initially financed through a commitment of $200 million from USDA to the new foundation.
Over the course of time, those resources for research purposes will have to be matched by the private and nonprofit sector. So it's essentially, ultimately a $400 million fund managed by a 15-person board. The dean happens to be one of the 15 individuals who's been selected on the initial board. And we're excited about getting that process started so that our two-legged stool is going to become a three-legged stool and much more stable and secure.
Why is this important? Because agriculture faces enormous opportunity and challenge. The opportunity is that we're continuing to see greater interest on the part of a lot of young people coming into the agriculture business. We see tremendous demand for American agricultural products, both here and abroad with record exports, the development of local and regional food systems.
We also see, however, some challenges and a changing climate, weather variability, happen to be a significant challenge for producers. It's one of the reasons why we established at USDA a series of climate change hubs-- one of which is associated in the northeast and connected to Cornell-- where we're basically assessing the vulnerability of agriculture in every region of the country. And then we'll be able to equip producers with techniques and technologies that will enable them to mitigate or adapt to a changing climate and weather variability, which will help them increase productivity and maintain productivity.
Why is that important? Because we've got a growing world population, and there's a growing demand for protein as middle classes around the world expand. So a tremendous opportunity, but tremendous challenge, all of which speaks to the need for continued research and continued investment in places like Cornell.
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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke with media at Cornell July 29, 2014 to explain the new private-public foundation that will bolster the USDA's supplemental research funding.
In the 2014 Farm Bill, the U.S. Congress created the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research and designated $200M in seed money. The remaining $200 million will be tendered by private entities.
Vilsack was joined by College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Dean Kathryn Boor, who sits on the foundation's new 15-member board to oversee its operation.