NACD Learns About Conservation in the Caribbean

Last week, leaders and staff from the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) traveled to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to meet with conservation districts and government officials to learn more about their resource concerns, district structure and projects, and how the islands have recovered from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

NACD President Brent Van Dyke, Southeast Region Executive Board Member Jim Harreld, Director of Projects and Partnerships Rich Duesterhaus, Southeast Region Representative Phylis Vandevere and Director of Communications Stephanie Addison along with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Caribbean Area Director Edwin Almodovar had the opportunity to meet with conservation district representatives and partners to learn more about some of the specific projects the islands had underway in the area and how the islands were affected. To learn more about the islands' main resource concerns and the role NRCS is playing in providing farmers assistance, check out Almodovar's blog. Additionally, the team had the

privilege to meet and hear directly from several of the employees who were hired under NACD's technical assistance grant program with NRCS. To learn more about technical assistance grants in Puerto Rico and USVI, read Duesterhaus' blog.

NACD met with some of the territories' most influential agriculture leaders, including Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture Secretary Carlos Flores Ortega and representatives from Governor Ricardo Rossello's office. These leaders are passionate not only about recovering, but about planning for the future and making the islands even more resilient. In fact, Jim Harreld extended a personal invitation to the agriculture secretary to attend NACD's summer meeting in Williamsburg.

On June 28, NACD traveled to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands to meet with USVI Commissioner of Agriculture Carlos Robles to present the islands with two checks as a part of a $100,000 technical assistance grant for the island. Later that day, the team met with the Department of Public Works Commissioner Nelson Petty and local producers in the area to learn how infrastructure was affected during the hurricanes in addition to the conservation techniques utilized by farmers on the island.

While they still have a long way to go, the islands are hard at work addressing the damage. Stay tuned for a full recap later this month on NACD's time in Puerto Rico and the USVI. You can find photos from the trip on our Flickr page, search for posts on social media using the hashtag #ConservationInTheCaribbean, and check out our most recent blog posts.

NACD Government Affairs Update

On Thursday, June 28, the Senate passed its version of the 2018 farm bill with a vote of 86-11.

Now that both the House and the Senate have passed their respective versions, each chamber will convene a conference committee where a group of members will work to settle the two versions' differences to send a final bill to the President’s desk.

For NACD’s take on the Senate farm bill, check out Director of Government Affairs Coleman Garrison's blog.

NACD is hopeful that with just under three months before the current farm bill expires, Congress has left itself enough time to work through the conference committee process and pass a new farm bill on time.

NCPP Listening Session Garners Conservation Planning Input

On Wednesday, June 27, nearly 150 participants from NRCS, conservation districts and state officials provided input to the fifth National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP) listening session in Syracuse, N.Y.

NACD Secretary-Treasurer Kim LaFleur represented the association and presented the findings of the 2016 survey of farmers, employee and district officials regarding their ideas on conservation planning. National leaders from the five organizations making up the NCPP – NACD, NRCS, NCDEA, NARC&DC and NASCA – all participated and presented segments of the agenda. One important topic from the New York session was how to harmonize state conservation planning requirements with national policies and procedures.

The NCPP Outcomes and Accountability Action Team spent an extra day following the listening session in face-to-face meetings to further advance their work to adequately measure results and accomplishments of conservation efforts in the nation.

Three remaining listening sessions are scheduled for this year:

  • Kearney, Neb. - July 19
  • Fayetteville, N.C. - August 23
  • Casper, Wyo. - October 16

These sessions are designed to help the NCPP effort ensure conservation planning in the future addresses priority needs such as the types of services needed by farmers, ranchers and others.

One Month 'til Summer Meeting

The 2018 NACD Conservation Forum and Tour and Southeast Region Meeting is quickly approaching, and there are less than two weeks left to complete your registration and hotel reservations. This week is the last week to register by mail, and all forms must be received by Friday, July 6. Online registration and hotel reservations must be completed by Friday, July 13.

Please do not mail or fax registration forms after July 6. After this date, you must register online or on-site. Click here to learn more and to review the registration form. A confirmation letter will be sent

via email to the email address provided on the registration form. If you do not receive your confirmation, please contact Kimberly Uldricks at 202-547-6223 or Your confirmation is your receipt for the meeting, so please keep it for your records.

This meeting is made possible through our sponsors, including The National Wild Turkey Federation.

Soil Health Champion Spotlight

Erin Nissen is one of NACD’s newest Soil Health Champions, residing in Mosca, Colo. Nissen graduated from Texas Tech University in 2013 with a degree in agricultural and applied economics. Since graduation, she came home to run her family farm alongside her father, Lyle, raising conventional and organic fresh market potatoes, malting barley for Coors and multi-species cover crops for incorporation and feeding their 150 head of cattle.

Always researching ways to improve their operation, the Nissens make it a priority to focus on maintaining healthy soils. In addition, because their operation is located in a high-altitude desert that receives very low precipitation, every decision made also centers on water management.

To read more about the Nissen’s farm and how they manage their operation for soil health, be sure to visit Erin’s profile on the NACD website. To hear directly from the Nissens, be sure to check out their video interview as the 2014 Mosca-Hooper Conservationists of the Year.

If you’d like to learn more about the NACD Soil Health Champions Network or know someone who would be a good addition to this network, please be sure to visit the NACD website, download our one-page information sheet, and contact NACD North Central Region Representative Beth Mason.

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