John Beuttenmuller named executive director of Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — John Beuttenmuller has been named executive director of Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc., which produces and licenses new plant varieties developed by faculty with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Beuttenmuller took the post July 1. He has worked in UF’s cultivar licensing program since 2005, most recently as FFSP’s intellectual property and licensing director. As executive director, he oversees breeding programs for more than 40 crops and a 750-acre seed stock farm in Marianna.

“I see this as an excellent opportunity,” Beuttenmuller said. “I’m excited to be involved in an organization that truly has the ability and track record of contributing greatly to agriculture in Florida, the U.S. and the world, as well as the continued success of plant breeding programs at UF.”

Beuttenmuller was an ideal candidate, said Mark McLellan, IFAS dean for research.

“John has an unusual mix of characteristics, as he is an astute businessman, a vibrant leader and has a warm personality,” McLellan said. “John is someone who will constantly seek out value for all business partners including the university, thus maximizing the partnership. I foresee a time under John’s leadership of great success and growth.”

Since 1971, FFSP has been a UF direct support organization, licensing cultivars to producers who grow and sell the crops, then pay UF a portion of the proceeds in the form of a royalty. The organization has been phenomenally successful recently. During fiscal year 2009-10, IFAS revenue from licensed cultivars was $3.78 million, a sixfold increase from 2000-01.

One reason is that IFAS makes cultivar development a priority, Beuttenmuller said. At a time when many land-grant universities are cutting back on plant breeding programs, UF is taking the opposite tack, and is able to do so because of the current success of cultivars licensed by FFSP.

Of the royalties generated by FFSP’s licensing activities, 70 percent are reinvested in the UF breeding program. So for every dollar in cultivar royalties UF receives, 70 cents goes back to the research team who developed the cultivar.

This arrangement has been in place since the early 1990s, Beuttenmuller said.

“The UF policy was created with a lot of foresight, and has been paramount to our success,” he said. “As biotechnology and molecular genetics have grown in popularity, it has been harder and harder for traditional plant breeders to attract grant funding, so reinvestment provides a way to support breeders and their programs. Given their long-term focus and resource-intensive nature, royalty support has become increasingly more important, especially in a climate of budget cuts.”

Two of Beuttenmuller’s goals are encouraging new plant breeders and garnering bigger market shares for Florida crop producers and, thus, the new varieties developed by UF breeders. Some of the university’s most successful breeding programs include blueberry, peanut, strawberry and tomato, annual ryegrass, and the ornamental plants aglaonema, caladium and coleus.

Beuttenmuller earned a bachelor’s degree in finance at UF and worked as a financial consultant before joining UF’s cultivar licensing team.

Contacts

 Writer: Tom Nordlie, 352-273-3567, tnordlie@ufl.edu  

Sources: John Beuttenmuller, 352-392-9446, beutt@ufl.edu

Mark McLellan, 352-392-1784, mrm1@ufl.edu

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John Beuttenmuller, executive director of the Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc., poses with coleus, a popular ornamental plant. Coleus is one of the most successful crops bred by faculty with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Photo by Tyler Jones, University of Florida/IFAS.