Spring 2021
As farmers are wrapping up #plant21, all of us at Farm Foundation are sending our best wishes for a great growing season. Let’s dig into some of the latest news we have to share!
Download our 2020 Annual Report
Whether you have supported Farm Foundation through financial contributions, knowledge sharing, time and energy, or other means, we are grateful that you are part of our community! We are pleased to share with you our FY2020 Annual Report, covering our work to serve the agriculture and food systems in the period of May 2019 through April 2020. Please access the report to read highlights from the year, including: our two Round Table meetings; the launch of our Agricultural Scholars program; our growing body of work; and the amazing network of leaders and supporters who continue to help Farm Foundation fulfill our mission to build trust and understanding at the intersections of agriculture and society.

In 2020, Farm Foundation modified our fiscal year to align with the calendar year; look for our next report, covering the shortened fiscal year of May through December 2020, to be issued this summer. In the meantime, we hope you are as excited as we are about all the great work happening at Farm Foundation, and thank you again for your partnership and participation!
The latest project work at Farm Foundation
Despite a global pandemic and every other challenge of 2020, Farm Foundation has stayed busy, and we’re continuing to build momentum behind several important projects in 2021. Read on for a brief update on some of our active projects; we’re spotlighting one from each of our four strategic thematic priority areas. If your organization is interested in partnering with us on these or other initiatives in these important areas affecting agriculture, please contact us to start the conversation.
Providing greater access to rural mental health resources
Launched at the end of 2020, the Iowa Farm Family Wellness Alliance is a joint effort between Farm Foundation, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and Personal Assistance Services, with the support of anonymous donors, to make confidential, ongoing mental health and wellness services available to all farm families in Iowa. Families can access one-on-one coaching and counseling, including ongoing counseling sessions, to help manage anxiety, depression, stress, substance use and more—all at no cost. Iowa was selected as a pilot state for this program following the derecho storms in August of 2020; the broader goal is to expand access to these vital services to farm families across the country. Farm Foundation President and CEO Shari Rogge-Fidler shared more about this program in an interview with the Iowa Farm Bureau’s podcast, The Spokesman Speaks. Listen here.
Building data interoperability in agriculture
Farm Foundation aims to lead a coalition of like-minded partners in scaling the practical application of the digital exchange of information in ag production systems and across the value chain. As a first phase, we are actively working to solve a number of “data gaps” in the pork supply chain that have the potential to improve efficiency, profitability, transparency or sustainability. We held an event storming in November 2020 that identified some of these gaps, and in March we co-hosted our first hackathon to develop prototype open source code to address one such gap: modeling an Advance Ship Notification (ASN) for pigs via the Trellis API Framework as a two-way, real-time communication channel coordinating a farmer shipping pigs, a trucker hauling pigs, and a processor receiving pigs. Future development of this and other coding solutions is planned, and we are currently seeking additional funding to sustain this effort. This highly technical work has the potential to make a real, practical impact on the way data is shared across the pork supply chain, while also developing a replicable model for other commodity sectors. Learn more here.
Leading the discussion around local land use
Farmland is the most abundant land use in Greater Chicago. It can support habitat for important insects and wildlife; improve water quality, flood control and climate mitigation; sustain livelihoods; and grow food for the region’s residents. For these reasons, as well as supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19, the futures of food, farming and conservation are becoming increasingly interwoven in the farmland of Greater Chicago. In partnership with Openlands, we are hosting a series of dialogues in July to bring together farmers, conservationists, planners, residents and business leaders alike to discuss current trends in farming and natural resource protection, and collaborate on how best to collectively shape future strategies and decisions around local land use together.
Meeting at the intersection of trade and climate change
Farm Foundation was proud to once again partner with The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) to host a free virtual event series, the Trade and Climate Change Conference, on April 7 and April 9, 2021. Following our successful collaborations on Trade and Sustainability in 2019 and Managing Trade in an Increasingly Chaotic World in 2020, this year’s conference explored agricultural trade in the context of global climate change policies, which have become increasingly ambitious and diverse among international players. All sessions were recorded and are now available for viewing on the Farm Foundation YouTube Channel.
Meet our first Agricultural Economics Fellow
We’re proud to announce that Dr. Alejandro Plastina is the first Farm Foundation Agricultural Economics Fellow! Dr. Plastina is an Associate Professor/Extension Economist in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University and was selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants for this new program, which is designed to nurture a promising leader in the field of ag economics.
Dr. Plastina will be engaged with Farm Foundation for one year, during which he will have the opportunity to provide thought leadership through publications and speaking appearances, expand his professional network and manage high-visibility projects. He will participate in Farm Foundation programs and events, network with and be mentored by staff in the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist, and mentor and meet with participants in Farm Foundation’s suite of next generation development programs. We’re excited to extend our long history of collaboration with agricultural economists through this new program, and look forward to Dr. Plastina’s contributions in the coming year. Learn more about Dr. Plastina and the Agricultural Economics Fellowship here.
Introducing the 2021 Agricultural Scholars
Farm Foundation and USDA’s Economic Research Service are partnering once again in 2021 to host our second cohort of Farm Foundation Agricultural Scholars. This collaborative program seeks to actively engage graduate-level scholars in government and agricultural policy work with a year-long series of intensive, hands-on learning experiences. It is designed to inspire and train the next generation of agricultural economists interested in agricultural policy, commodity market analysis, agricultural finance or other applied fields of economics.

Congratulations to our 2021 Agricultural Scholars:
  • Andrew Anderson, Kansas State University
  • Shelby Brewer, Mississippi State University
  • Mckenzie Carvalho, Mississippi State University
  • Brian Cornish, Auburn University
  • Matthias Kunerth, South Dakota State University
  • Naila McCraney, Florida A&M University
  • Noé Nava, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Zachary Neuhofer, Purdue University
  • Sarah Sellars, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Nathanial Trull, Oregon State University
Farm Foundation announces June 2021 Cultivators
To help nurture the next generation of industry leaders, Farm Foundation, with support from Round Table Fellows and BNSF Railway Company, selects and sponsors six university students to attend a Farm Foundation Round Table meeting. These Cultivators, who may be undergraduate or graduate students, have the opportunity to interact with leaders in today’s food and agriculture sector, and present key aspects of their studies to an influential audience.

We are proud to announce our newest cohort of Cultivators, who will join us for the June 2021 Round Table meeting:
  • Shweta Adhikari, University of Georgia
  • Octavio Guimaraes, Colorado State University
  • Lacey Lingelbach, University of Florida/Indiana University
  • Laura van der Pol, Colorado State University
  • Vivian Vuong, University of California, Davis
  • Janeva Williams, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Farm Foundation Forums are available on-demand
Farm Foundation has hosted three Forums so far in 2021, and the response keeps growing with every one. We’ve been so excited to have the opportunity to engage with many more people as we’ve pivoted to deliver our Forums in a virtual format over the past year. If you’re interested in revisiting these topics or viewing them for the first time, check out the links below!

February 2021 ForumAg Trade: Outlook on Global Markets and Negotiations. Moderated by Chris Clayton, DTN/The Progressive Farmer. Speakers included Kanlaya Barr, John Deere; Gregg Doud, Aimpoint Research; Cassandra Kuball, Michael Torrey Associates; and Sharon Sydow, USDA Office of the Chief Economist.

March 2021 ForumEmerging Carbon Markets in Agriculture: Issues and Opportunities. Moderated by Shari Rogge-Fidler, Farm Foundation. Speakers included Aldyen Donnelly, Nori; Lisa Streck, Bayer; Matt Schmitt, Cargill; Cristine Morgan, Soil Health Institute; and Ken McCarty, MVP Dairy.

April 2021 ForumUnderstanding the EU Farm to Fork Strategy and Its Implications for U.S. Agriculture. Moderated by Bill Bryant of Bryant Christie Inc. Speakers included Tassos Haniotis, Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Union; Alan Hardacre, CropLife Europe; Marta Messa, Slow Food Europe; and Jayson Beckman and Maros Ivanic, both from the USDA Economic Research Service.

Mark your calendars for our next Forum, Biologicals in Agriculture: Innovation, Science and Promise, which is scheduled for June 29, 2021. Registration is now open; just click the button below to sign up free to attend.
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Farm Foundation is an accelerator of practical solutions for agriculture. Our mission is to build trust and understanding at the intersections of agriculture and society. Our vision is to build a future for farmers, our communities and our world.
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