Former Iowa Gov. and U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad has been named the new president of the World Food Prize Foundation, the organization announced today.

Branstad served as Iowa’s governor from 1983 to 1999 and again from 2011 through May 2017 when he stepped down to become ambassador to China under the Trump administration.

Branstad will succeed Barbara Stinson, who stepped down this month after serving as president for three years.

Paul Schickler, chair of the World Food Prize Foundation, said Branstad brings the global vision and agricultural background needed to lead the organization.

"Amb. Branstad, who was serving as governor of Iowa when John Ruan Sr., rescued the World Food Prize and moved it to Iowa, has been a champion of our mission from its earliest days,” Schickler said in a release announcing the move. “He was an especially strong supporter of the World Food Prize Foundation’s Iowa Youth Institute, which encourages high school students across the state to pursue STEM subjects.”

The World Food Prize was established by Iowa native Norman Borlaug in 1986 to recognize achievements in agricultural sustainability and efforts to reduce global hunger. The annual $250,000 prize is often referred to as the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture.

Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his own efforts to fight hunger.

According to the release, Branstad was a member of a collaboration of Iowa governors that resulted in the creation of the Iowa Hunger Summit. The summit brings together those involved in the fight against food insecurity to address issues across the state.

Rachel Ruan McLean, vice chair of the World Food Prize Foundation, said the foundation is pleased that Branstad has accepted the position to become president.

“My grandfather, John Ruan, Sr., and my father, John Ruan III, both held him in the highest regard for his longstanding public service to Iowa and our country,” Ruan McLean said in the news release. “Amb. Branstad has had an important connection to food and agriculture throughout his entire career, and he is the perfect choice to carry forward the Ruan and Borlaug legacies of building the World Food Prize Foundation."

Branstad said he’s “honored to lead an organization bringing together the world’s greatest agricultural scientists and fostering the next generation of innovators.”

"The World Food Prize is known globally for celebrating groundbreaking advances in biosciences, and I am proud to continue to build upon that Borlaug-Ruan legacy,” he said in the release.

As part of the leadership transition, Senior Vice President Mashal Husein has been promoted to chief operating officer, the foundation announced.

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the years Branstad served as governor.