Jan 23, 2020
Clif Bar invests $500K in new UC organic research institute

The University of California will establish its first-ever institute for organic research and education with a $1 million endowment.

The California Organic Institute will be established in UC’s Agriculture and Natural Resources division (UC ANR) with a $500,000 endowment gift from Clif Bar & Company and $500,000 in matching funds from UC President Janet Napolitano.

Clif Bar & Company is a producer of organic foods and drinks, perhaps best known for its energy bars.

The institute will accelerate the development and adoption of effective tools and practices for organic farmers and those transitioning to organic by building on the capabilities of UC ANR’s Cooperative Extension and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, according to a press release from the university. Although organic is “the fastest-growing sector of the food economy,” funding for research has lagged behind that received by conventional agriculture, according to the release.

“California’s organic farmers already benefit from UC ANR’s pest management, irrigation and crop production research, and this partnership with Clif Bar will give UC more capacity to focus on challenges specific to organic farming,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president of agriculture and natural resources. “UC Cooperative Extension advisors work directly with farmers throughout the state so new organic farming techniques can be applied quickly.”

The California Organic Institute is Clif Bar’s third organic research endowment, but the first in its home state of California, where the company sources several key organic ingredients.

California has the most organic farms in the U.S., according to a 2016 USDA survey. California’s nearly 3,000 certified organic farms grow crops on land that represents 21% of all U.S. certified organic land, according to the release.

“The California Organic Institute will serve many of the organic producers we depend on for ingredients like almonds and figs, as well as farmers outside our supply chain,” said Lynn Ineson, vice president of Sustainable Sourcing for Clif Bar. “We recognize that the future of our food company depends on the ecological and economic success of organic and transitioning farmers.”

Recruitment for an institute director will begin in early 2020, with a search committee including industry representatives and partners, the university said. The director will work with a permanent advisory committee, Clif Bar, and UC ANR to launch the institute and recruit additional like-minded partners to support its long-term success.

Clif Bar & Company Founder Gary Erickson is pictured with Kit Crawford, with whom he shares ownership of the company and CEO responsibilities. Photo: Clif Bar

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