Clif Bar & Company and the King Arthur Flour Company today announced the funding of a $1.5 million endowment for organic grain breeding research in Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS). This is Clif Bar’s second and King Arthur’s first public university endowment dedicated to developing crop varieties adapted to organic farming practices.
The Clif Bar & King Arthur Flour Endowed Chair in Organic Grain Breeding & Innovation is being awarded to Stephen Jones, Ph.D., director of the WSU Bread Lab, through a combination of $850,000 from lead funder Clif Bar, $500,000 from King Arthur Flour and $150,000, ranging from donations of $100 to $75,000, from nine individuals and two organizations. The investment enables CAHNRS to continue organic grains research at the WSU Bread Lab, and ensures the research can continue at the university in perpetuity.
“Organic research helps farmers and farming communities thrive,” said Matthew Dillon, director of agricultural policy and programs for Clif Bar & Company. “The Bread Lab serves as a model for other regions of rural America to replicate.”
“Innovation in wheat breeding and organic farming practices is critical to improving the long-term health of our soil and our planet,” said Karen Colberg, co-ceo of King Arthur Flour. “We believe investing in this research is an investment in the next generation of farmers. If we can help to evolve the agriculture landscape through improved organic farming, we help farmers and we help meet growing consumer demand for more organic food.”
Working with area farmers, the Bread Lab has begun to develop new varieties of wheat and barley, providing farmers in the surrounding Skagit Valley with hardy, nutritionally-dense rotation crops. These new varieties not only enrich the soil, but also produce grains favored by local millers and maltsters who sell to regional bakers and brewers. For the region’s consumers, that means greater access to more nutritious and flavorful breads, craft beers and a host of other grain-based products. Plus, a more successful rural economy with 200 new jobs created in recent years by the intersection of the Bread Lab, farmers and related businesses.
“The Bread Lab strives to keep the value derived from agriculture in the region where it’s produced,” said Jones, widely regarded as one of the nation’s premier wheat breeders. “As plant breeders, we make grain varieties that work for the farmer first, and then find their best use regionally for milling, baking, brewing and other uses.”
“Through creative research and community engagement, the WSU Bread Lab is committed to developing flavorful and nutritious crop varieties, transforming them into healthy foods and building regional grain economies. It’s thanks to partners like Clif Bar & Company and King Arthur Flour that this hub of innovation led by Dr. Jones can continue to advance scientific breeding practices and be among the preeminent research programs at Washington State University,” said Ron Mittelhammer, dean of CAHNRS.
In June 2015, Clif Bar & Company announced a plan to raise $10 million by 2020 to fund the nation’s first endowed chairs in organic plant breeding at public universities in the United States. Of the public tax dollars spent on agricultural research, organic receives less than one percent of the funding.1 The first endowed chair went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and agronomy professor William F. Tracy for his work on organic corn breeding.
In addition, the Clif Bar Family Foundation has awarded $1.4 million to fund 16 graduate fellowships in organic plant breeding at colleges and universities across the country, including six at Washington State University. In 2016, King Arthur Flour built and opened a Baking School at The Bread Lab, teaching professional and home bakers how to bake with a variety of flours and grains.
About Clif Bar & Company:
Clif Bar & Company crafts nutritious and organic food to feed and inspire adventure, including the CLIF BAR® energy bar; CLIF Kid®, Nourishing Kids in Motion® and LUNA®; The Whole Nutrition Bar. Family and employee-owned, the company is committed to sustaining its people, brands, business, community and the planet. For more information on Clif Bar & Company, please visit www.clifbar.com, check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/clifbar and follow us at www.twitter.com/clifbar and www.instagram.com/clifbar.
About King Arthur Flour:
King Arthur Flour is an employee-owned company and a certified B-corporation with a commitment to social and environmental good. The company’s mission is to inspire and share the joy of baking, bringing people together and building stronger communities. Their premium flours, baking mixes, and ingredients are available in supermarkets nationwide and online. More than 3,500 tested and trusted baking tools, ingredients, and recipes are available online at. For more information please visit www.kingarthurflour.com and www.facebook.com/kingarthurflour.
About the WSU Bread Lab:
The Bread Lab represents deep connections—connections with the land, with communities, with partners, and with the food that nourishes us. A program of Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, the Bread Lab brings the science of breeding together with the science of bread making to produce tasty, healthy, nutritious food to the tables of millions of people around the globe. To learn more about the Bread Lab and its partners, visit http://thebreadlab.wsu.edu/.