In response to this, Clif Bar and Organic Valley recently teamed up to fund the first endowed chair focused exclusively on organic research.The first of its kind, this chair was received by the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), home to the largest plant breeding research program in the nation, and will go to a faculty member chosen based on his or her record of organic crop development.
An endowed chair provides funding to one university faculty member for him or her to carry out dedicated research, as well as mentor students on the subject. The permanent funding comes from the endowment’s interest income.
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences boasts an interesting track record in terms of agricultural innovation. Most recently, researchers there developed a new sweet corn variety adapted specifically for organic growth.
“With this grant, and the creation of this chair, students will have an opportunity to learn about this organic model of agriculture,” said George Siemon, CEO of Organic Valley. “It is critically important that our young people know the benefits of organics and leverage them to develop solutions for all of agriculture. We deeply believe that healthy seeds and healthy soils are key to healthy plants and animals.”
The grant totals $2 million, half from Clif Bar and Organic Valley, and half from UW-Madison alumni John and Tashia Morgridge. Clif Bar plans to work with other companies to lead four similarly focused chairs, to the tune of $10 million, by 2020.