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March 14, 2013 Volume 34, No. 23

Board appointed by Obama to discuss worldwide food challenges Friday at MU


Chancellor Brady J. Deaton is chair of BIFAD

The Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) will assemble for a wide-ranging panel discussion on feeding the world 8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Friday in the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Fred W. Smith Forum. The public is welcome to attend. 

BIFAD is a group of scholars and agricultural specialists appointed by President Barack Obama to develop solutions to worldwide food challenges. 

Chancellor Brady J. Deaton, appointed BIFAD chair in April 2011, said Wednesday that part of his role as chair is “to ask fresh questions about what [the board] is doing.” 

Deaton wants to “marshal that talent and energy” of those appointed to meet the food challenges the world faces, he said.

 “Vital to this is a continuing communication process,” Deaton said.

BIFAD was created in 1975 under Title XII (Famine Prevention and Freedom from Hunger) of the Foreign Assistance Act. The board’s role is to draw on the scientific expertise of U.S. higher education institutions, especially those with land-grant missions such as MU, and advise and serve the country’s international food security assistance efforts through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). 

“We have an incredible challenge before us — to produce food for 9 billion people [by 2050] — and we need our best scientific thinking to meet this challenge as we help people feed themselves worldwide,” Deaton said.

Since Deaton’s appointment, the board has met outside Washington, D.C., several times at universities. Deaton said the reason is to tap into faculty ideas and expertise at higher education institutions. Friday marks the first time MU has hosted a BIFAD panel discussion. 

“We are especially proud of being able to host this meeting of these international policy advisers on our campus,” Deaton said. “As scientific advisers to the administrator of USAID, we are dedicated to addressing the needs to feed a growing population.

The event will be broken into three parts: 

• 8:40–9:15 a.m., board outreach reports on Africa and Asia. 

The speakers scheduled are Catherine Bertini, professor of public administration and international affairs at Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University; Marty McVey, president of McVey & Associates LLC; and William DeLauder, president emeritus of Delaware State University (board term recently expired, but DeLauder will attend meeting).

• 9:15–10:30 a.m., panel discussion on development of USAID labs and research priorities in pest management and sustainable intensification, which involves increasing food production and water conservation. 

Deaton will moderate the discussion. The panel is Julie Howard and Saharah Moon Chapotin of USAID; Sylvie Brouder, professor of agronomy at Purdue University; and Dale G. Bottrell, a professor in the Entomology Department at the University of Maryland.

• 10:45 a.m.–noon, an MU faculty panel will discuss agriculture research. Deaton will moderate.

On the panel are:

• Marc J. Linit, associate dean for research and extension in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

• Jill Findeis, chair of the Division of Applied Social Sciences

• Robert Sharp, director of Interdisciplinary Plant Group

• Handy Williamson Jr., vice provost of International Programs

• William Meyers, director of International Agriculture Programs.