USDA has announced that Roger Beachy has been appointed the first director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), a new research agency created under the 2008 Farm Bill.

Beachy has been president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis since 1999, overseeing the attraction of more than $75 million in research grants and more than 170 plant scientists as well as the establishment of a $100 million endowment.

The agency he will head, NIFA, was envisioned by the writers of the 2008 Farm Bill to be an agriculture research body similar to the National Institutes of Health that would replace the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES).

In related news, more than 45 agriculture, food and research organizations wrote members of agriculture appropriations subcommittee leadership in both chambers of Congress last week, urging them to maintain the $295 million in funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) allowed for in the Senate agriculture appropriations bill.

AFRI, also established in the 2008 Farm Bill, will be a competitive research grant program under the heading of NIFA. It is authorized to receive up to $700 million/year. For more on AFRI funding, go to the National Association of Wheat Growers.