Annual Meeting Highlight: NACD Auction

Dear Friends of Natural Resource Conservation and Stewardship, 

Once again, a highlight of the NACD Annual Meeting will be the Live Auction the evening of Monday, February 1! The Live Auction is a unique opportunity for corporations, states, individuals and others to provide items of extreme value and pride to raise money for conservation education.  

Lane Nordlund, a farm broadcaster from Montana with the Northern Ag Network will announce and Master Auctioneer Johnny Regula is returning for the ninth time to lend his voice, talents and sense of humor to what promises to be one of the best auctions ever! 

Past attendees and winning bidders can attest to the effect of the event on their passion for conservation. The evening ends with all who have been involved knowing they have been part of something good. The money raised will help strengthen and carry the voices of local conservation to where it is most needed.

The growing list of donations to date includes some great items such as a Kansas hunting trip, beautiful western art, and a hand crafted wooden bowl from Kentucky. We are also proud to offer agricultural products like four 30 gallon drums of Monsanto’s RoundUp, two 100-hour sessions on a CASE IH tractor of your choice, Avail fertilizer enhancer and Nutri-Sphere-N Fertilizer by Verdesian, 50 gallons of Liberty Herbicide by Bayer Crop Science, and a seed sample case by Green Cover Seeds. And donations keep rolling in! Be sure to check our Annual Meeting Auction page for the latest updates.  

I hope you all have plans to be at this awesome event and if you can't make it, let us know and we promise to bid for you! 

-Tim Palmer
Auction Committee Chair and NACD Executive Board Member 

Pack-A-Book for the NACD Annual Meeting

As you prepare to join NACD at the Annual Meeting in Reno, don’t forget to Pack-A-Book! You can participate in this great program that benefits students at a local Nevada elementary school. Just shop for a natural resource book and pack it in your luggage for the conference! You can also make a donation, and NACD will purchase a book(s) in your behalf. Visit the NACD Pack-A-Book page for more details on how to participate and for a list of suggested books. 

This year’s school benefitting from your donations is the Veterans Memorial Elementary School in Reno, NV. Your donation will be a great addition to their school library. Please remember to bring a book or make a donation to purchase books for this school. 

Books will be accepted at the NACD Stewardship and Education Exhibit in the Conservation Expo. Donations of books or money to purchase books will also be accepted from those unable to attend. Visit the NACD Pack-A-Book page for more details on how to participate and for a list of suggested books. Contact Beth Mason at 317-946-4463 or

Congress to Vote to Disapprove Waters of the US Rule

This week, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a resolution expressing its disapproval of the new Waters of the United States rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule. The Senate voted on the resolution (SJ Res 22) in November and it passed 53-44. The House is expected to pass the resolution, which would also block the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the rule. The president has already stated that he will veto the resolution if passed. Currently, Congress does not have the votes to override the veto.  

The final rule was released in August of 2015, but while the law is being reviewed in the courts, it is currently not being enforced due to a court injunction. Click here for the full text of the resolution. 

Congressional Outlook for Agriculture, Conservation

Since this year is a presidential election, the Congressional calendar will be shortened. However, Congress will be busy dealing with many agriculture and conservation issues. Some of these items were not completed in the first session of the 114th Congress including School Nutrition reauthorization, GMO labeling or preemption legislation, and CFTC reauthorization. This year, House and Senate leadership want to go through regular order for appropriations. This would involve each of the twelve appropriations bills passing and conferencing separately, rather than having an omnibus spending bill that funds the entire government. The appropriations bills that relate to agriculture and conservation are Agriculture and Interior Appropriations. Congress is currently ahead of schedule in the appropriations process, since they passed a budget resolution in 2015 that covers the 2017 fiscal year. Other topics that could be covered by Congress are dietary guidelines, the Waters of the United States Rule, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the current state of the cotton market. As they did last year, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will continue to conduct oversight of the Department of Agriculture relating to Farm Bill implementation.  

The Smithfield Envirothon Partnership Recognized in North Carolina!

Buddy Harris, manager of Smithfield Foods Tarheel Processing Plant, was honored as a ‘Guardian of the Envirothon’ for his generous financial support of the North Carolina Envirothon program during the Conservation Education Dinner at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. 

But Buddy is not alone in North Carolina in stepping up to support and actively be engaged in North Carolina’s local, regional, and state Envirothon team training, event planning, and competition support. Various Smithfield Foods’ employees and sustainability coordinators have become involved at the local level with the Envirothon program from the coast to the piedmont to the mountains of North Carolina. The soil and water conservation districts and their employees are excited about Smithfield Foods’ employees across the state becoming involved as volunteers in the North Carolina Envirothon program. 

In September of 2015, Smithfield Foods, Inc. and the National Conservation Foundation (NCF) announced a partnership to help sponsor NCF-Envirothon, an educational program that engages high school students across the U.S. and Canada in conservation efforts. As part of Smithfield’s sponsorship of NCF-Envirothon, the company’s employees will serve as volunteers in communities where they live and work, assisting students participating in the program. Smithfield’s sponsorship also underscores the company’s commitment to sustainability, and is a vital component of its overall program, which has five main focus areas, or pillars: animal care, environment, food safety and quality, employees, and helping communities. 

Secretary Vilsack Urges Congress to Provide a Wildfire Funding Fix

Last week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the 2015 wildfires burned 10,125,149 acres across the United States. The 2015 wildfire season has dethroned the 2006 season as the most acres burned. In addition to holding the acreage record, 2015 was also the most expensive on record. 

By August of 2015, the U.S. Forest Service spent its entire fire suppression budget and was forced to transfer funds away from trail restoration, watershed management, and other areas of the Forest Service budget. Over the past 14 years, the Forest Service has had to transfer additional funds to fire suppression seven times and the Department of Interior (DOI) has had to do similar transfers six times. The cost of wildfire preparedness and suppression now accounts for 76 percent of the Interior wildfire management program. 

To incentivize Congress to provide a wildfire funding fix, Secretary Vilsack has directed USDA staff to “end the practice of fire borrowing and slow the consuming growth of fire as a percentage of the Forest Service budget and, instead, ensure that all resources in the 2016 budget are spent in the manner intended, such as the important forest restoration work that helps to minimize wildfires in the first place.” 

Last year, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA) stalled in Congress. The bill can still be passed this year, and seeks to provide the DOI and Forest Service some of the changes they require. 


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