IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
March 29, 2012
Mr. Roberts (for himself, Ms. Stabenow, and Mr. Conrad) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
To require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a nonprofit corporation to be known as the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.
Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
In this section:
The term Board means the Board of Directors described in subsection (e).
The term Department means the Department of Agriculture.
The term Foundation means the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research established under subsection (b).
The term Secretary means the Secretary of Agriculture.
The Secretary shall establish a nonprofit corporation to
be known as the
Foundation for Food and Agriculture
The Foundation shall be considered to be an entity described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of such Code.
The Foundation shall not be an agency or instrumentality of the United States Government.
The purposes of the Foundation shall be—
to advance the research mission of the Department by supporting agricultural research activities focused on addressing key problems of national and international significance including—
plant health, production, and plant products;
animal health, production, and products;
food safety, nutrition, and health;
renewable energy, natural resources, and the environment;
agricultural and food security;
agriculture systems and technology; and
agriculture economies and rural communities; and
to foster collaboration with agricultural researchers from the Federal Government, institutions of higher education, industry, and nonprofit organizations.
The Foundation shall—
award grants to, or enter into contracts, memoranda of understanding, or cooperative agreements with, scientists and entities, which may include agricultural research agencies in the Department, university consortia, public-private partnerships, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, and industry, to efficiently and effectively advance the goals and priorities of the Foundation;
in consultation with the Secretary—
identify existing and proposed Federal intramural and extramural research and development programs relating to the purposes of the Foundation described in subsection (c); and
coordinate Foundation activities with those programs so as to minimize duplication of existing efforts;
identify unmet and emerging agricultural research needs after reviewing the Roadmap for Agricultural Research, Education and Extension as required by section 7504 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 7614a);
facilitate technology transfer and release of information and data gathered from the activities of the Foundation to the agricultural research community;
promote and encourage the development of the next generation of agricultural research scientists; and
carry out such other activities as the Board determines to be consistent with the purposes of the Foundation.
The Foundation shall be the sole entity responsible for carrying out the activities described in this subsection.
Relationship to other activities
The activities described in paragraph (1) shall be supplemental to any other activities at the Department and shall not preempt any authority or responsibility of the Department under another provision of law.
Board of directors
The Foundation shall be governed by a Board of Directors.
The Board shall be composed of appointed and ex-officio, nonvoting members.
The ex-officio members of the Board shall be the following individuals or designees:
The Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics.
The Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service.
The Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The Director of the National Science Foundation.
The ex-officio members of the Board under subparagraph (B) shall, by majority vote, appoint to the Board 15 individuals, of whom—
8 shall be selected from a list of candidates to be provided by the National Academy of Sciences; and
7 shall be selected from lists of candidates provided by industry.
The ex-officio members shall ensure that a majority of the members of the Board have actual experience in agricultural research and, to the extent practicable, represent diverse sectors of agriculture.
No employee of the Federal Government may serve as an appointed member of the Board under this subparagraph.
Not Federal employment
Appointment to the Board under this subparagraph shall not constitute Federal employment.
All appointed members of the Board shall be voting members.
The Board shall, from among the members of the Board, designate an individual to serve as Chair of the Board.
Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall convene a meeting of the ex-officio members of the Board—
to incorporate the Foundation; and
to appoint the members of the Board in accordance with paragraph (2)(C)(i).
The Board shall—
establish bylaws for the Foundation that, at a minimum, include—
policies for the selection of future Board members, officers, employees, agents, and contractors of the Foundation;
policies, including ethical standards, for—
the acceptance, solicitation, and disposition of donations and grants to the Foundation; and
the disposition of assets of the Foundation, including appropriate limits on the ability of donors to designate, by stipulation or restriction, the use or recipient of donated funds;
policies that would subject all employees, fellows, trainees, and other agents of the Foundation (including members of the Board) to the conflict of interest standards under section 208 of title 18, United States Code;
policies for writing, editing, printing, publishing, and vending of books and other materials;
policies for the conduct of the general operations of the Foundation, including a cap on administrative expenses for recipients of a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement from the Foundation; and
specific duties for the Executive Director;
prioritize and provide overall direction for the activities of the Foundation;
evaluate the performance of the Executive Director; and
carry out any other necessary activities regarding the Foundation.
Establishment of bylaws
In establishing bylaws under subparagraph (A)(i), the Board shall ensure that the bylaws do not—
reflect unfavorably on the ability of the Foundation to carry out the duties of the Foundation in a fair and objective manner; or
compromise, or appear to compromise, the integrity of any governmental agency or program, or any officer or employee employed by or involved in a governmental agency or program.
Terms and vacancies
The term of each member of the Board appointed under paragraph (2)(C) shall be 5 years.
If a member of the Board does not serve the full term applicable under clause (i), the individual appointed to fill the resulting vacancy shall be appointed for the remainder of the term of the predecessor of the individual.
A member of the Board may continue to serve after the expiration of the term of the member until a successor is appointed.
Any vacancy in the membership of the Board shall be filled in the manner in which the original position was made and shall not affect the power of the remaining members to execute the duties of the Board.
Members of the Board may not receive compensation for service on the Board but may be reimbursed for travel, subsistence, and other necessary expenses incurred in carrying out the duties of the Board.
Meetings and quorum
A majority of the members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for purposes of conducting business of the Board.
The Board shall hire an Executive Director who shall carry out such duties and responsibilities as the Board may prescribe.
The Executive Director shall serve at the pleasure of the Board.
In carrying out this section, the Board, acting through the Executive Director, may—
adopt, alter, and use a corporate seal, which shall be judicially noticed;
hire, promote, compensate, and discharge 1 or more officers, employees, and agents, as may be necessary, and define the duties of the officers, employees, and agents;
solicit and accept any funds, gifts, grants, devises, or bequests of real or personal property made to the Foundation, including such support from private entities;
prescribe the manner in which—
real or personal property of the Foundation is acquired, held, and transferred;
general operations of the Foundation are to be conducted; and
the privileges granted to the Board by law are exercised and enjoyed;
with the consent of the applicable executive department or independent agency, use the information, services, and facilities of the department or agency in carrying out this section;
enter into contracts with public and private organizations for the writing, editing, printing, and publishing of books and other material;
hold, administer, invest, and spend any gift, devise, or bequest of real or personal property made to the Foundation;
enter into such contracts, leases, cooperative agreements, and other transactions as the Board considers appropriate to conduct the activities of the Foundation;
modify or consent to the modification of any contract or agreement to which the Foundation is a party or in which the Foundation has an interest;
take such action as may be necessary to obtain patents and licenses for devices and procedures developed by the Foundation and employees of the Foundation;
sue and be sued in the corporate name of the Foundation, and complain and defend in courts of competent jurisdiction;
appoint other groups of advisors as may be determined necessary to carry out the functions of the Foundation; and
exercise such other incidental powers as are necessary to carry out the duties and functions of the Foundation in accordance with this section.
No appointed member of the Board or officer or employee of the Foundation or of any program established by the Foundation (other than ex-officio members of the Board) shall exercise administrative control over any Federal employee.
The Foundation shall—
provide for annual audits of the financial condition of the Foundation; and
make the audits, and all other records, documents, and other papers of the Foundation, available to the Secretary and the Comptroller General of the United States for examination or audit.
Annual report on foundation
Not later than 5 months following the end of each fiscal year, the Foundation shall publish a report for the preceding fiscal year that includes—
a description of Foundation activities, including accomplishments; and
a comprehensive statement of the operations and financial condition of the Foundation.
Each report under subclause (I) shall include a description of all gifts or grants to the Foundation of real or personal property or money, which shall include—
the source of the gifts or grants; and
any restrictions on the purposes for which the gift or grant may be used.
The Foundation shall—
make copies of each report submitted under subclause (I) available for public inspection; and
on request, provide a copy of the report to any individual.
The Board shall hold an annual public meeting to summarize the activities of the Foundation.
Any recipient of a grant under subsection (d)(1)(A) shall provide the Foundation with a report at the conclusion of any research or studies conducted the describes the results of the research or studies, including any data generated.
To ensure integrity in the operations of the Foundation, the Board shall develop and enforce procedures relating to standards of conduct, financial disclosure statements, conflict of interest (including recusal and waiver rules), audits, and any other matters determined appropriate by the Board.
Financial conflicts of interest
Any individual who is an officer, employee, or member of the Board is prohibited from any participation in deliberations by the Foundation of a matter that would directly or predictably affect any financial interest of—
a relative (as defined in section 109 of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.)) of that individual; or
a business organization or other entity in which the individual has an interest, including an organization or other entity with which the individual is negotiating employment.
The Board shall adopt written standards to govern ownership of any intellectual property rights derived from the collaborative efforts of the Foundation.
The United States shall not be liable for any debts, defaults, acts, or omissions of the Foundation nor shall the full faith and credit of the United States extend to any obligations of the Foundation.