On Tuesday nine private sector agricultural organizations gathered at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., to sign a three-year Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The agreement will “establish a collaborative framework for cooperative activities intended to enhance and accelerate the transfer and adoption of technologies and approaches for improved agricultural production and natural resource stewardship” through activities such as “employee training, producer outreach, joint projects, and communications efforts.”
Goals within the agreement include:
- Developing case studies with a focus on soil health and the 4Rs (Right source, Right rate, Right time, Right place) of nutrient management.
- Hosting a national orientation and training event.
- Creating a joint recognition program for highlighting successful, local partnerships.
Representatives from each organization were present to sign the agreement. Signatories include USDA NRCS; the National Assn. of Conservation Districts (NACD); the National Assn. of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA); The Fertilizer Institute (TFI); the Agricultural Retailers Assn. (ARA); the American Society of Agronomy (ASA); the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA); the Crop Science Society of America; Syngenta; and CropLife America (CLA).
“Public-private partnerships help accelerate conservation adoption,” stated Jason Weller, chief of NRCS. “NRCS has a long history of collaborating with private organizations to increase conservation on private lands. Through this agreement, we will expand these partnership efforts with the agriculture industry, helping us extend the reach of NRCS’ technical and financial assistance. By connecting the strengths and skills of our various partners, we will be able to better help the people who grow food and fiber, maintain the viability of farming and ranching, and conserve the natural resources for future generations.”
Leaders from each partner organization joined NRCS in sharing their hope for the agreement.
“We are pleased to be a part of this collaborative effort, bringing together government, NGO and agribusiness partners,” stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA. “The CropLife Foundation is already deeply involved in projects to advance eco-conscious technologies, such as through our work with Iowa University on prairie strips integrated with row crops. By aligning our efforts with the other signatories, we can multiply our impact, improve efficiency, and increase access to and awareness of increasingly advanced farming technologies.”
“NACD is thrilled to be partnering alongside NRCS with some of the leading agricultural businesses, retailers and associations in the U.S.,” NACD President Lee McDaniel said. “NACD and the nearly 3,000 conservation districts we represent nationwide – including the 17,000 people who serve on their governing boards – look forward to sharing the expertise we’ve gained in the areas of soil health and water conservation in the eight decades since the Dust Bowl.”
NASDA CEO Dr. Barbara P. Glenn said, “This joint partnership reaffirms years of public-private partnerships helping fuel conservation adoption by farmers and ranchers. NASDA is committed to the goal of natural resource stewardship. By leveraging these partnerships and diverse funding streams, we will advance conservation adoption.”
“For agriculture in this nation to continue to be successful and prosperous, government, industry, and all stakeholders need to come together around common goals,” said Chris Jahn, president of The Fertilizer Institute. “This MOU is a great step in our mutual collaboration, and I believe it will help as we all work to implement 4R Nutrient Stewardship in an effort to improve nutrient management, soil health and water quality around the nation.”
“The Agricultural Retailers Association is proud to join this collaborative effort to promote and expand conservation programs,” said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. “As a trusted resource, ag retailers are in a prime position to advise farmers on implementing conservation methods and tactics that improve nutrient stewardship, sustainability and profitability.”
Ellen Bergfeld, CEO of ASA, CSSA and SSSA, said, “We are excited to strengthen our partnership with NRCS in an effort to improve the environmental and economic sustainability of America’s farmers. Certified crop advisers play an important role in advancing practices and technologies to enhance natural resource stewardship.”
“This is a rare combination of government, conservation groups, industry associations and agribusiness, along with scientists and agronomists, working together toward a common goal. To improve farm production, to preserve our precious land and to stimulate agricultural innovation,” said Jeff Sands, manager of federal government relations at Syngenta. “We've been working on this project for nearly five years, since the last Farm Bill, and it’s rewarding to see it finally come to fruition. But the real payoff will be for the generations to come.”