Brian Snyder Joins Leadership Team at Ohio State’s Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation

Appointment advances action on President Drake’s vision to promote food security

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Brian Snyder, executive director of one of the leading sustainable agriculture organizations in the nation, will join the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation at The Ohio State University as it pursues its mission to create sustainable and resilient food systems for Ohio and beyond.

Snyder’s appointment at Ohio State is effective June 1. He will serve as the initiative’s executive director.

Known as InFACT, the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation pursues holistic approaches to ensure good food for all. Its work is based on collaboration across the sciences, engineering and humanities, as well as the engagement of external partners in government and private industry. President Michael V. Drake has said Ohio State will invest nearly $100 million to address food security over the next decade.

InFACT is part of the Discovery Themes Initiative at Ohio State, which is dedicated to using the university’s unmatched breadth and expertise to pursue solutions to the most important challenges of our times. Begun in 2012, Discovery Themes is the most ambitious academic effort ever undertaken at Ohio State.

For the past 15 years, Snyder has been executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, one of the largest sustainable agriculture organizations in the nation. The group works to improve the economic viability, environmental soundness and social responsibility of food and farming systems in the state. In addition, Snyder has been involved in national policy issues, including work on federal regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

“For 25 years, PASA has toiled in the trenches of our food system to improve conditions for farmers, community-based food entrepreneurs and a growing audience of informed consumers who care where their food comes from,” Snyder said. “Now, I am eager to see how much more substantial change can be achieved through engaging the very significant resources and vast partnerships available, working within a world-class institution like Ohio State.”  

Snyder will lead InFACT with Faculty Director Casey Hoy, who leads a team of more than 70 faculty members from across the university who conceived and launched the initiative. The team has begun hiring 30 new faculty colleagues with diverse expertise to support this academic, ecological and cultural transformation by creating linkages among Ohio State’s many disciplinary and interdisciplinary strengths. Hoy, based at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center on Ohio State’s Wooster campus, holds the Kellogg Endowed Chair in Agricultural Ecosystems Management.

Estimates are that 1 in 9 people worldwide is chronically malnourished and that 1 in 7 Ohio households reports food insecurity.

“Making real progress on food security will require changes in both human culture surrounding food and the science and technology of how we produce, distribute and prepare it,” Hoy said. “With Brian Snyder’s proven ability to build capacity in organizations like PASA and our existing momentum in building capacity within Ohio State, we are well positioned for a positive impact on food security for all.”

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Suzanne Steel