Keenum to speak at agriculture data summit at UN

Contact: James Carskadon

Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum speaks at the U.N. in New York in 2014.

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum is participating in a two-day summit of leading U.S. and international agriculture officials in New York City.

The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) 2016 Summit will include two days of high-level remarks, sessions and presentations on Thursday and Friday (September 15 and 16), focusing on the importance of data access in providing global food security. It is the largest-ever event dedicated to open data and agriculture. Keenum, who has led MSU in multiple initiatives to address world hunger, will speak during two separate sessions on Friday.

Keenum specifically will focus on the vital expertise of universities in every step of food production and the increasingly important role of open data to global food security. Since becoming MSU president in 2009, Keenum has worked alongside university personnel to formalize and expand partnerships with the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as its World Food Programme. Earlier this year, Keenum was named to the Feed the Future Evaluation Oversight Committee to help oversee the global performance evaluation of the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

The GODAN summit’s goal is to encourage global leaders to open agriculture and nutrition datasets, fostering collaboration and knowledge dissemination with the goal of ending world hunger. More information can be found at

On Friday morning, Keenum will speak as part of a session titled “Open Data Revolution: Pipe Dream or Global Solution?” with other leading personnel from academia, U.S. and international governments and non-governmental organizations. The afternoon session will be held in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber at the U.N.  

In the closing plenary on Friday afternoon, Keenum will give remarks alongside U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Willy Bett, among others.

Keenum serves as chairman of the Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH) steering committee, leading the consortium to the landmark launch of PUSH in December 2014 at the U.N. in New York. PUSH is an organization of more than 80 universities worldwide that work together to address global hunger and food security issues and signed the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security in 2014.

MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Judy Bonner also signed the commitment when she served as University of Alabama president. PUSH is a member of GODAN’s executive committee, which supports the 2016 summit. The summit is organized by the Global Partnerships Forum.

As undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2006-08, Keenum was responsible for international food aid programs administered by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Services and worked closely with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and U.N. organizations. He holds three degrees in agricultural economics from MSU and served as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran from 1996-2006.

As a land-grant institution, MSU has been dedicated to impactful research and outreach in the area of agriculture throughout its 138-year history. The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES) and the MSU Extension Service, both have spent more than 100 years researching agricultural issues and providing relevant information to farmers throughout Mississippi and beyond. MSU has been in the top 10 nationally in agriculture-related research for 17 consecutive years.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at