Stephen Jones, Ph.D., director of the Washington State University Bread Lab, has received a $1.5 million endowment from Clif Bar and King Arthur Flour for organic grain breeding research. Image courtesy Washington State Magazine

EMERYVILLE, CALIF. — Clif Bar & Co. on Jan. 31 said it will fund a $1.5 million endowment for organic grain breeding research in Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resources Sciences (CAHNRS). The move marks the company’s second public university endowment dedicated to developing crop varieties adapted to organic farming practices. The first was announced in June 2015 in partnership with Organic Valley Family of Farms for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The latest endowment is being awarded to Stephen Jones, Ph.D., director of the Washington State University Bread Lab, and includes a combination of $850,000 from Clif Bar, $500,000 from King Arthur Flour, and $150,000 from nine individuals and two organizations.

“Organic research helps farmers and farming communities thrive,” said Matthew Dillon, director of agricultural policy and programs for Clif Bar & Co. “The Bread Lab serves as a model for other regions of rural America to replicate.”

Dr. Jones, who is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top wheat breeders, added, “The Bread Lab strives to keep the value derived from agriculture in the region where it's produced. 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.”

In June 2015, Clif Bar detailed plans to raise $10 million by 2020 to fund five endowed chairs in organic breeding at public universities across the United States. In addition to its support of the endowed chairs, Clif Bar Family Foundation has awarded $1.4 million to fund 16 graduate fellowships in organic plant breeding at colleges and universities across the United States, including six at Washington State University.