UW-Madison Professor William F. Tracy Named First Endowed Chair for Organic Agriculture
Clif Bar & Company and Organic Valley have named UW- Madison Professor William F. Tracy of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences as the recipient of the nation's first endowed chair focused on plant breeding for organic crops. The $2 million endowment, known as the UW-Madison Clif Bar and Organic Valley Chair in Plant Breeding for Organic Agriculture, will support research to develop crop varieties adapted to organic systems.
The grant will be funded in perpetuity by both companies and will be matched by a gift from University of Wisconsin graduates John and Tashia Morgridge. This is the first of five organic research endowed chairs totaling $10 million to be led by Clif Bar over the next five years.
The award is given to someone with an established track record of mentoring students in the discipline of organic cultivar development and also developing cultivars under certified organic conditions.
A sweet corn breeder and professor of agronomy, Tracy leads the world's largest research program focused on the breeding and genetics of traits important to organic sweet corn growers. In the past eight years, he has developed five cultivars under organic conditions which are currently on the market.
"We are thrilled that Professor Tracy has been selected as the first endowed chairperson in this program," shared Kevin Cleary, Chief Executive Officer of Clif Bar & Company. "His leadership in organic agriculture development, innovative research, and student mentorship make him an excellent recipient for this award."
A dedicated mentor to more than 40 graduate students and an academic adviser to 300 undergraduates during his career, Tracy is committed to training the next generation of scientific leaders. Two of Tracy's recent PhD students are now employed in the organic seed industry. He also lectures around the country about recent developments in public, organic plant breeding.
Clif Bar & Company and Organic Valley selected UW-Madison as the first endowment partner due to its history as a land-grant public university committed to serving rural communities and the public good. In addition, UW-Madison's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has been a leader in organic agricultural innovation.
"The continued growth of the organic market provides a unique opportunity for family farms of Wisconsin and an increased need for research on organic farming methods," said George Siemon, CEO of Organic Valley. "We are so pleased that Bill Tracy will be the first endowed chair in organic agriculture in the US, and that he will lead this important work right here in the heartland of organics."
The news of Tracy's selection was announced today during Organic Valley's Grass Up! Madison event at the Wisconsin State Capitol. The Grass Up! gathering is an educational event bringing policy-makers, educators, farmers, and other experts in agroecology to advance solutions for sustainable food systems.
About Clif Bar & Company
Clif Bar & Company is a leading maker of nutritious and organic foods and drinks, including CLIF® Bar energy bar, LUNA®, The Whole Nutrition Bar for Women®; and CLIF Kid®, Nourishing Kids in Motion®. Focused on sports nutrition and snacks for adventure, the family and employee-owned company is committed to sustaining its people, brands, business, community and planet. For more information on Clif Bar & Company, please visit http://www.clifbar.com, check out our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/clifbar and follow us on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/clifbar.
About Organic Valley
Organic Valley is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents approximately 1,800 farmers in 36 states. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, and produce, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. With its regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support our local economies. For further information, visit http://www.organicvalley.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter @OrganicValley and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/OrganicValley.
About University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Established in 1889, the college carries out UW-Madison's mission as a land-grant public university through excellence in teaching, research and public outreach across 19 academic fields, ranging from production agriculture to natural resources to social sciences to fundamental life sciences. Learn more at http://www.cals.wisc.edu, http://www.facebook.com/UWMadisonCALS or on Twitter at @UWMadisonCALS.