Coalition of Ag Organizations Sign Conservation Agreement with USDA12/14/2016
Several agricultural associations and agribusinesses today joined together to promote and expand federal conservation programs.
The Agricultural Retailers Association, in partnership with several other agricultural organizations, today signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to “extend the reach of NRCS’ technical and financial assistance to new customers and through new channels… to expand conservation adoption and increase the overall sustainability of farming, ranching and forestland operations.”
It was signed by the National Association of Conservation Districts, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, The Fertilizer Institute, ARA, American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society, Crop Science Society, Syngenta and CropLife America.
The MOU establishes “a collaborative framework for cooperative activities intended to enhance and accelerate the transfer and adoption of technologies and approaches.” Together, the partnering organizations will develop initiatives such as employee training, producer outreach, joint projects and communications efforts that advance conservation practices. Efforts will be focused on soil health and 4Rs (Right source, Right rate, Right time and Right place).
“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.”
Developing the MOU has been an ongoing project for ARA during the last two years and is a result of groundwork laid in the 2014 Farm Bill, which included provisions for a pilot program to allow ag retailers to become technical service providers for NRCS.
“The genesis of this partnership was to establish a line of communication between NRCS, ag retailers and other stakeholders,” said Gary Farrell, owner of Ag Enterprise Supply in Cheney, Wash. “This agreement will help the agency and retailers build greater awareness for ongoing conservation efforts.”
With the initial focus on soil health, Farrell said he hopes the agreement will help create a more consistent message and better information exchange between public and private entities.
“Stewardship efforts must be agronomically realistic,” he added. “They need to be beneficial for conservation, but also provide the economies necessary to make it work.”