Voluntary conservation yields big rewards in Chesapeake Bay

Last Friday, NACD President Lee McDaniel, CEO Jeremy Peters, and Director of Communications Whitney Forman-Cook traveled to Y Worry Farm in Davidsonville, Md., to join Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and NRCS Chief Jason Weller in celebrating the profound difference farmers have made within the Chesapeake Bay watershed by using voluntary conservation practices.

McDaniel met with Sec. Vilsack that morning, along with NRCS officials and commodity group leaders, to discuss pertinent issues like the next farm bill. McDaniel relayed that the secretary encouraged commodity and conservation groups to work together on farm bill policy and to spread the message that voluntary conservation efforts work, and work well.

To view a clip of Chief Weller’s speech in support of voluntary conservation, click here to visit our Facebook page. Also be sure to check out NRCS’ most recent publication, “Agricultural Lands Key to a Healthy Chesapeake Bay,” for details on how farmer-led conservation has dramatically boosted the watershed’s health.

We’ve received 2017’s first live auction donation!

Barely a week after opening registration for the 2017 Annual Meeting, we’ve received our first live auction donation! Green Cover Seed has graciously donated an aluminum display case containing seeds from 48 different cover crop species.

Keith Berns, co-owner of Green Cover Seed, says the donation is “a way of giving back to NACD for all the support that they give to farmers in our joint and ongoing effort to protect the God-given resources that we have been blessed with.”

Keith and his brother Brian started the company from “the ground up” on their diversified, no-till farm in south central Nebraska. Over the past six years, Green Cover Seed has grown to be one of the largest providers of cover crop seed and education in the country. To learn more about Keith and Brian Berns, check out their NACD Soil Health Champion profile.

NACD’s live auction is made possible by your generosity. Every donation is greatly appreciated and we look forward to highlighting them in future editions of eResource, on NACD’s Facebook event page, and on our website.

Good and bad news out of Nevada on wild horses

Last week the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board met for two days in Elko, Nevada. First on the agenda was a tour of a nearby Herd Management Area where wild horse populations are well over the Appropriate Management Level. The board heard comments from individuals, counties, and organizations, too, including the Nevada Association of Conservation Districts, the Wild Horse and Burro Rangeland Management Coalition, and NACD.

As the meeting concluded, the board issued a recommendation to the BLM to allow for the unrestricted sale of horses and burros that are not adopted. The agency also announced Friday it would be abandoning its surgical sterilization program in Oregon. For a look at how the Advisory Board came to the decision on unrestricted sale, check out board member Ben Masters' blog for a detailed account.

To read the letter NACD sent to the Advisory Board last week on this issue, click here.

Your Capitol Hill policy update

As the end of this fiscal year looms, Congress is working to set up a funding plan for the next one, which starts on October 1. Under regular order, each chamber of Congress would have passed 12 individual appropriations bills; however, as has been the case for the past several years, Congress has failed to send any of those bills to the president’s desk, and as a result, is scrambling to keep the federal government from shutting down. While some of the programs that conservation districts use are funded through mandatory budget allocations, others, including the funds that pay NRCS staff salaries, are covered by the discretionary side of the budget, which is subject to change annually. There is a consensus growing in Washington that Congress will fund the federal government past the presidential election and into the lame duck session. In the interim, NACD will continue to monitor Congress’ progress and advocate for strong voluntary conservation program funding.

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