The International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) formed a task force in 2011 and charged them with guiding and completing the necessary steps to establish a separate 501(c)(3) charitable organization that could provide the tree fruit industry with the potential for more research fund donations and an effective means to grant funding for tree fruit research long term. That task was completed recently when the new organization, IFTA Research Foundation, was incorporated.
IFTA will continue to manage the Research Committee's Request for Proposals and review of submitted proposals; however, the IFTA Research Foundation will fund the projects recommended by the IFTA Committee. The Committee meets once per year during the IFTA Annual Conference held typically in February. During that time they review all submitted research proposals as a group and create a list of projects they recommend funding for the year.
IFTA has always, as a core mission, sought to encourage research that will address issues that advance tree fruit growing and support systems. To meet that need in the future, the Foundation has also established a permanent endowment fund. The other primary activity for the IFTA Research Foundation is one of fundraising. They will request contributions from growers and suppliers for both current year research projects and for the permanent endowment fund.
Ken Hall, Edwards Apple Orchards, Inc. of Poplar Grove, Ill., was elected as the first president of the Foundation Board of Trustees.
"The IFTA Research Foundation is about making a commitment to tree fruit research for the long term,” said Hall. "The benefits won't be paid today, and the recipients may not be you or me. But there will be future fruit growers, maybe your grandchildren or mine, who will be better at what they do because IFTA research continued on.”