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Awards and Honors

Carlos Iglesias to Serve on USDA Advisory Board

Carlos Iglesias in greenhouse

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reappointed NC State University faculty member Carlos Iglesias to serve on the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board. Members are made up of a mix of university, nonprofit and industry representatives. Iglesias, director of the Plant Breeding Consortium, was first appointed to the NAREEE Specialty Crop Committee in 2021.

Iglesias holds a doctorate in plant breeding and crop physiology, a master’s degree in agricultural economics, a master’s in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in agronomy. Iglesias has decades of experience in academia, public and private seed sectors, program management and plant breeding for a variety of industrial and horticulture specialty crops that span regional to multinational collaborative research.

Some of his research specialties include the collection, characterization, maintenance and use of germplasm resources for seed and vegetatively propagated crops; the development and deployment of improved varieties and hybrids; development and management of large international projects, connecting plant breeding programs with industry needs and opportunities, as well as program budgeting.

Iglesias has direct plant breeding experience with cassava, corn, peas, popcorn, stevia and wheat as well as engaging with many specialty crops programs at NC State University such as cucurbits, potatoes, small fruits, sweetpotatoes and tomatoes. Many of these successful plant breeding programs now closely collaborate with the industry, commodity groups and colleagues in different discipline areas and regions to more effectively adapt cultivar lines to grower and consumer demands.

Elevating Specialty Crops Priorities

Iglesias plans to elevate a number of priorities to the committee, including specialty crops as enablers of human wellbeing through improved and diversified nutritional offers; specialty crops as a key component of any resilient cropping system in the phase of climate change and uncertainty; and specialty crops as income generators for medium to small farm units.

As part of the NAREEE Advisory Board, Iglesias will provide feedback to the Secretary of Agriculture and USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission, which is dedicated to creating a safe, sustainable, competitive U.S. food system and promoting strong, healthy communities, families, and youth through integrated research, analysis, and instruction. Additionally, representatives from land-grant colleges and universities advise on food and agricultural research, education, extension, and economics priorities and policies. The Advisory Board also offers recommendations on high-priority science needs to agricultural committees of the U.S. Congress.

Positive Committee Synergies

“In being a committee member,  I get to synergize with representatives from industry, government, consumer groups, and other universities, which is an enriching and enlightening experience,” says Iglesias. “We are exploring future opportunities with some of the committee members, which is a good indicator that the committee could go beyond its monthly meetings and discussions.”

NAREEE Board members are selected to serve a 2- to 3-year term and appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Each NAREEE Advisory Board member represents a specific category of U.S. agricultural stakeholders as outlined in the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. These areas include farming, ranching, food production, processing, forestry research, crop and animal science, land-grant institutions, other colleges or universities with a historic commitment to research in food and agricultural sciences, food retailing and marketing, rural economic development, natural resources, and consumer interest groups.

Goals and Outcomes

Iglesias joins the national board’s Specialty Crop Committee of academic and industry representatives that study the scope and effectiveness of research, extension and economics programs affecting the specialty crop industry, including the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), a granting program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The SCRI aims to foster collaboration, open communication, information exchange, and resource deployment to expedite the use of scientific discovery and technology in addressing the needs of different specialty crop industries. SCRI prioritizes projects that are multi-state, multi-institutional, or trans-disciplinary, and incorporate explicit methods for disseminating results to producers and the public.

The USDA NAREEE aims to improve the food system to benefit, not just North Carolina but all Americans. They focus on local and regional food production, creating fair markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe and healthy food in all communities and developing new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using sustainable practices.

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