116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad will take over as president of the World Food Prize Foundation, considered the preeminent award for global agriculture.
Branstad, the longest-serving governor in Iowa’s history and former ambassador to China, said he’s hoping to raise the visibility of the organization and continue to fund research into the quantity and quality of agriculture.
The organization gives an annual $250,000 award to an individual for their “achievements in improving the quality, quantity, and availability of food in the world,” according to a press release. Cynthia Rosenzweig, an American agronomist, received the award in 2022.
“I’m very honored and very pleased to be asked to be the new president of the world food prize,” Branstad said in an interview. “ … It’s been a wonderful thing for our state; We’ve also helped get young people involved in STEM education and go all over the world.”
Branstad will succeed Barbara Stinson in the role, who has been president since 2020. Kenneth Quinn, who led the organization from 2000 to 2020, will serve as a temporary special consultant during the transition period, according to the release.
"We are excited to bring on a leader with both global vision and strong roots in agriculture," Paul Schickler, chair of the foundation, said in the release. "Amb. Branstad, who was serving as Governor of Iowa when John Ruan, Sr., rescued the World Food Prize and moved it to Iowa, has been a champion of our mission from its earliest days.“
The annual award was created by Nobel Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug to award innovations in agriculture. The sponsorship of the program was taken over by Iowa businessman John Ruan in 1990, while Branstad was governor.
Branstad said he hopes to build on the initiatives the foundation is already running, including the annual prize, a research program through Iowa State University, and the annual Iowa Hunger Summit.
Branstad was Iowa’s governor from 1983 to 1999, and again from 2011 to 2017. In 2017, he was tapped by President Donald Trump to be ambassador to China.
Branstad’s relationships with food companies during his time as Iowa’s governor will help in getting contributions to the foundation, he said, and his political experience will help keep up annual state appropriations to the foundation.
“We’ve always had broad, bipartisan support for the World Food Prize,” he said. “… We hope that we can get the state appropriation, and also that I can raise private money to help augment that.”