NACD op-ed on farmer-led, voluntary conservation hits Baltimore newsstands

NACD President Lee McDaniel, in partnership with National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling and American Soybean Association President Richard Wilkins, penned an op-ed for The Baltimore Sun last week that emphasized the success of voluntary conservation efforts by farmers in improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

“For decades, these producers have stepped up all across the watershed, assumed responsibility for their share of the nutrient and sediment pollution in the bay, and worked tirelessly toward unprecedented, remarkable change. Just in the past seven years, the agriculture sector has single-handedly reduced its phosphorus and sediment runoff in the watershed by 50 and 75 percent respectively.”

The association presidents celebrate the improvements made by farmers, saying, “We are proud of what our membership has accomplished in the bay over the past several decades and believe it is our duty to share their story with you.”

Denver In January Promises Something for Everyone

Are you planning on joining your fellow conservation district leaders in Denver in January?

In addition to an action-packed agenda at NACD’s 2017 Annual Meeting, Denver has something for everyone! The Sheraton Denver-Downtown is located along the mile-long pedestrian promenade of outdoor bistros, microbreweries, shopping and entertainment, and situated in the heart of Denver’s financial and business districts. Hop on the free shuttle to access some of downtown Denver’s top attractions, like the Denver Performing Arts Complex, Colorado Convention Center, and the city’s major professional sports stadiums. Access to downtown Denver is easier than ever with the opening of the new light rail service between Denver International Airport and downtown Denver’s Union Station.

If you are thinking of staying over for some skiing, great news! Rail service has recently been re-established on the historic Winter Park Express which will ferry skiers and winter enthusiasts from downtown Denver’s Union Station to a new rail platform just steps from the slopes in Winter Park.

And thanks to generous support from Agri Drain and U.S. Sugar, NACD is pleased to once again be offering scholarship opportunities for free registration and a complimentary ticket to our annual Appreciation Dinner to first-time meeting attendees. One scholarship will be awarded to a first-time meeting attendee from each state and territory to join us in Denver.

Scholarship recipients must stay at the Sheraton in Downtown Denver where the meeting is located and must be selected by their state or territory in collaboration with their NACD board member. Please have your recipient contact NACD Director of Membership Kimberly Koch to complete their registration.

Early-bird registration discounts are available until December 16, so don’t delay making plans to join us in Denver!

Joint Forestry Team website is up and running

The Joint Forestry Team recently launched a new website to highlight some of America’s best forestry partnerships and all-lands projects. The Joint Forestry Team consists of representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, NRCS, the National Association of State Foresters, and NACD. Its purpose is to make recommendations that improve interagency and private/public sector coordination in the delivery of forestry and conservation assistance on working lands.

The new website has information on state-level, forestry management memorandums of understanding (MOUs) and features regular content on multi-partner forestry projects. Soon, the website will include a state-by-state directory of forestry contacts.

For questions on, contact NACD Forestry Specialist Mike Beacom.

NASCA, partners, and conservation leaders gather in Branson

The National Association of State Conservation Agencies (NASCA) held their 2016 annual meeting September 26-28 in Branson, Missouri. The meeting focused on the changing nature of soil and water conservation delivery across the U.S. and provided the opportunity for dialogue between conservation partner leaders and NASCA members.

Conservation districts were represented at the meeting with NACD President Lee McDaniel (pictured here), CEO Jeremy Peters, and Director of Projects and Partnerships Rich Duesterhaus attending. In his opening comments, President McDaniel provided his perspectives on growing the base of support for conservation beyond traditional customers to include broader constituencies, including urban areas. McDaniel and Peters updated NASCA’s members on NACD’s activities on building conservation planning capacity, conservation bootcamp, urban agriculture conservation grants, as well as planning for the 2018 farm bill, and the latest policy updates. NACD also participated on a panel discussion with partner leaders on efforts to sustain voluntary conservation. Next year’s NASCA annual meeting will be held September 25-27 in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

NACD’s State Executive Directors meet in Little Rock

This past week, executive directors from fifteen state associations gathered in Little Rock, Arkansas, for the 14th annual State Association Executive Directors’ Conference. Half of those in attendance were first-time attendees and relatively new to their positions with their state associations.

The highlight of the program was a specially designed 4-hour professional development workshop entitled “Recharge Your Brain, Renew Your Brand, and Release Your Potential” with nationally known speaker/trainer, Randy Frazier. Other session topics included strategic planning, partnerships, NACD Soil Health Champions, and state association annual meetings.

The conservation tour throughout Arkansas included a visit to Alotian Golf Club (pictured at right) to learn about their conservation efforts in nutrient management and protecting the drinking water source.

The program ended at the Five Oaks Duck Lodge where owner and manager George Dunklin, Jr. shared the land’s history and their efforts in sustainability and conservation. Special guest speaker Harrison Pittman from the National Agricultural Law Center in Fayetteville discussed environmental legal issues.

Bryce Wrigley and his family farm 1,700 acres of covered barley, hull-less barley, peas, and canola in Delta, Alaska. They also own and operate the Alaska Flour Company, where they mill the hull-less barley into flour, cereal, couscous, and a wide variety of other products. The Wrigleys started the flour mill to increase Alaska’s self-reliance, create new markets for other farmers, and offer an opportunity for their five children and eight grandchildren to return to the farm.

The Wrigley’s entry into soil health was influenced by several factors. Under conventional tillage, it took six pieces of equipment to plant a crop, each with a driver. As their labor force dwindled (“the kids left home” says Bryce), they ran out of equipment operators; now Bryce can plant the crops by himself. The Wrigleys also wanted to convert some Conservation Reserve Program ground to cropland but didn’t want to disturb the many good things that happened to the soil over the last 20 years. Most people assume Alaska is cold and snowy, but the Delta area only receives about 12 inches of precipitation a year, so conserving moisture is critical to soil health. The Wrigleys knew they needed to look at the whole crop production as a system – in relation to pest-predator balance and microbial interactions rather than just seed, fertilizer, and water – and switched from conventional tillage to no-till about five years ago.

Besides no-till, their other soil health practices include soil sampling to track residual soil nutrients, crop rotations including yellow field peas to control grasses associated with grain production, and field windbreaks. Spring rains are critical in germinating the area’s crops and during years when the rains are late, the Wrigleys have good soil moisture while his neighbors, who practice conventional tillage, have little.

It is obvious that the Wrigleys are leading the way to incorporate soil health practices into their farming operation and address the issues that make farming in their environment a challenge.

To read the rest of Bryce Wrigley's profile – and the profiles of our other soil health champs – visit the NACD Soil Health Champions webpage. If you or someone you know is a leader in soil health and would like to become a member of this growing, progressive network please contact NACD North Central Region Representative Beth Mason at or 317-946-4463 for more information.

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