Federal food board schedules meeting on MSU campus, April 9-10

A group of scholars and agricultural specialists who are considered some of the world’s top experts on food production, food safety and solving hunger across the globe will gather in Bozeman April 9 and 10 when the United States Agency for International Development‘s (USAID) Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) meets at Montana State University.

MSU President Waded Cruzado, a member of the board appointed by President Barack Obama, will host the meeting of fellow board members. This is only the second time in its history that the six-member board has met outside Washington, D.C.

The two-day meeting at MSU’s Strand Union Building Ballroom A will include a public meeting beginning at 8:30 a.m. Friday, April 10, followed by a panel with Montana tribal leaders as well as public question-and-answer periods during which the BIFAD members will discuss solutions to the growing issue of hunger in the U.S. and on the planet. During the public meeting, BIFAD members will also discuss research priorities under Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, and will participate on a panel about “How can a state university contribute globally in agriculture?”

The proceedings will be streamed live by KUSM MontanaPBS.

“It is an extreme honor for Montana State University to host this meeting of some of the top international food policy advisers and specialists, and it will be a tremendous privilege for me to show my fellow members the work that is being done by MSU faculty and students to solve the world’s hunger problem,” Cruzado said.

Cruzado said the public meeting will provide Montanans a rare opportunity to interact with some of the country’s top scientific thinkers and policy administrators who are addressing the needs of producing food for a growing world population, which is expected to reach nine billion people by 2050. The meeting will also afford MSU students access to some of the country’s people and programs working in the area of food production and sustainability.

Among the BIFAD membership are two winners of the World Food Prize. Gebisa Ejeta, a Distinguished Professor of Agronomy at Purdue University, won the prize for his contributions to the production of sorghum. A native of Ethiopia, Ejeta earned his doctorate at Purdue. He developed Africa’s first commercial hybrid variety of sorghum tolerant to drought. Later, with a colleague in Indiana, he discovered the chemical basis of the relationship between the deadly parasitic weed striga and sorghum, and was able to produce sorghum varieties resistant to both drought and striga.

Catherine Bertini, a professor of public administration and international affairs, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, who also won the World Food Prize, will not be able to attend the Bozeman meeting. Bertini was executive director of the United Nations World Food Program from 1992-2002.

The BIFAD is chaired by Brady Deaton, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Missouri. Other BIFAD members include Harold L. Martin, Sr., Chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University; and Marty McVey, President and CEO of McVey & Associates based in Houston.

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