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Climate Action

NACD recognizes the role farmers and private landowners can play in carbon sequestration or methane capture to reduce the impact of and offset greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change.

Greenhouse gases (GHG) include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. Greenhouse gases are primarily associated with the use of coal, oil and natural gas, but they can come from many different sources, even respiration. The ability to offset emissions through conservation practices and land management is a potential opportunity for agriculture and forestry operations.

Some methods for sequestering carbon are no-till farming, the use of cover crops, mulching of crop residue and crop rotation. Carbon can also be sequestered through sustainable forestry practices, in which carbon is stored in biomass by sustainable harvesting, reforestation and other natural processes. Once carbon is sequestered, credits with market value can be generated and sold or traded to industries needing to offset carbon emissions.

Conservation districts have been working to combat greenhouse gas emissions for years, even without explicit recognition of their work to that effect. Farm bill conservation programs address the reduction of greenhouse gases, including carbon sequestration in the Conservation Reserve Program and the creation of new or refinement of existing standards for the Grasslands Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program.

Climate action is needed now. The federal government may use the NACD locally-led model to empower community connections to deploy resources that prioritize and improve conservation on lands in every county in America.

Climate Action Task Force

On Earth Day 2021, NACD announced the creation of a Climate Action Task Force to assess current and emerging climate policy opportunities and make recommendations to NACD’s leadership and Board of Directors that utilize the technical knowledge and expertise of conservation districts as part of the U.S. solution to the global climate crisis. Read the full statement in NACD’s Newsroom.

Members of the Task Force include:

  • Dr. Mahdi M. Al-Kaisi, Professor of Soil Physics, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University; American Society of Agronomy Fellow; Soil Science Society of America Fellow; and Soil and Water Conservation Society Fellow
  • Arthur “Butch” Blazer, former president, Mescalero Apache Tribe; former Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment; former New Mexico State Forester
  • Ryan Britt, Missouri farmer, NACD Board Member, National Conservation Foundation Next Generation Leadership Institute Member; Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts President
  • Jimmy Emmons, NACD Soil Health Champion, Dewey County Commissioner, Oklahoma; No-Till on the Plains Vice President; Leopold Conservation Award Winner
  • Joe Fox, National Association of State Foresters President and Arkansas State Forester
  • James Gulliford, former Administrator, EPA Region 7; former Soil and Water Conservation Society Executive Director
  • Leonard Jordan, former Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting Chief, Associate Chief for Conservation, Eastern Regional Conservationist, and State Conservationist in Ga., Wash.
  • Cindy Lair, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Conservation Services Division Director; former president, National Association of State Conservation Agencies
  • Ray McCormick, lifelong conservationist and 2010 Indiana Master Farmer
  • Tim Palmer, NACD Immediate Past President and Iowa farmer
  • Laura Wood Peterson, President, LWP Consulting
  • Dr. Victoria Reinhardt, Ramsey County Commissioner, St. Paul, Minn.; National Association of Counties; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee; Chair of the Recycling Association of Minnesota
  • Dr. Karen Waldrop, Chief Conservation Officer for Ducks Unlimited, Inc.

Dr. Mahdi M. Al-Kaisi
Professor of Soil Physics, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University; American Society of Agronomy Fellow; Soil Science Society of America Fellow; and Soil and Water Conservation Society Fellow
Mahdi M. Al-Kaisi is a professor of soil physics (soil management/environment) for the Department of Agronomy at the Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. He received his masters and PhD in soil physics from North Dakota State University in 1982 and 1986, respectively. Professor Al-Kaisi has been on the faculty at Iowa State University since 2000, where his research focuses on the effects of cropping and tillage systems, crop residue management, cover crops and nitrogen application on soil carbon dynamics and sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions and other ecosystem services. In addition, he studies the interaction effects of agricultural practices and environmental factors, such as weather variability and landscape spatial variability on soil organic carbon sequestration and systems sustainability and productivity. The focus of his research is to develop sustainable management practices that improve soil health, productivity and environmental services. As a result of his research, he has developed field calculators to assess soil management practices impacts, such as tillage systems, crop residue and crop rotation effects on soil sustainability. He also developed soil carbon index for soils in Iowa. Dr. Al-Kaisi is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, the Soil Science Society of American and Soil and Water Conservation Society.
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Arthur "Butch" Blazer
Former President, Mescalero Apache Tribe; former Deputy Under Secretary, Natural Resources and Environment; former New Mexico State Forester
Arthur “Butch” Blazer was elected by his people and served his term as the president of the Mescalero Apache Tribe from 2018 to 2019. During the Obama Administration, Mr. Blazer served as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment from 2011 through 2016. In 2003, Governor Bill Richardson appointed him as state forester for New Mexico, the first Native American to hold that position. He served in that position through December 2010. A member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, he has been involved in tribal issues throughout his life. In 1983, he co-founded the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, a national tribal nonprofit organization and has served (twice) as the National President of the Society. Mr. Blazer currently serves on the Board of Directors for two national conservation organizations, the National Wildlife Federation and Conservation Legacy. Mr. Blazer graduated from New Mexico State University with a bachelors of science degree in range science and worked with various federal, tribal and state entities, as well as numerous nonprofit organizations in executive management and leadership positions during the course of his career.
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Ryan Britt
Missouri farmer; National Conservation Foundation Next Generation Leadership Institute Member; President Missouri Association of Conservation Districts
Ryan Britt is a fifth-generation farmer who, with his father, brother-in-law and the support of their families near Thomas Hill Lake, produce corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and cattle through practices, which incorporate the use of technology and innovative partnerships to maximize efficiency and sustainability. Mr. Britt has served as past president of the Randolph County Farm Bureau; past president of the Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts; and past president of the Randolph County Cattlemen’s Association. He currently is the treasurer of the Randolph County Soil and Water Conservation District, the board member for Missouri of NACD and an executive board member of Paseo Biofuels, LLC. He is also operating the Chariton County cover crop demonstration farm. Mr. Britt, with his wife Rebecca, received the 2005 DuPont Young Leader Award, as well as Pioneer NextGen Producer Award. Mr. Britt was recognized as the Environmental Steward of 2019 from Missouri’s Department of Agriculture. Most recently, he was selected as a cohort member in NACD’s Next Generation Leadership Institute (NGLI) and a NACD Soil Health Champion. Mr. Britt appreciates the call to serve others through his position as chairman of the deacons in his local church body and across the nation through the Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief. Mr. Britt attended the University of Missouri. To learn more about Ryan Britt, his family and their agri-business, please visit www.BrittFarmsBeef.com.
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Jimmy Emmons
Dewey County Commissioner, Oklahoma; No-till on the Plains Vice President; Leopold Conservation Award Winner
Jimmy Emmons and his family own and manage 2,000 cropland acres and 5,000 rangeland acres in Dewey County, Okla. The farm was converted to no-till in 1995, and Mr. Emmons later went a few steps further and adopted crop rotations, cover crops and planned grazing management to decrease soil erosion and increase water infiltration. In addition to conventional soil testing, he uses specialized soil and plant tissue testing to monitor soil fertility. This helps him adjust fertilizer application rates by crediting the system for nutrients supplied by soil organic matter. In 2017, Emmons Farm received the inaugural Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award, which recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources. Mr. Emmons served as president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts and on the board of the Dewey County Conservation District until being appointed by Secretary Perdue to serve as FPAC Regional Coordinator of the Southern plains Region for USDA in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas.
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Joe Fox
National Association of State Foresters; Arkansas State Forester
Joe Fox directs the Forestry Division of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture as Arkansas’ State forester. He joined the division in May of 2012. Preceding the appointment to state forester, Mr. Fox was the director of Conservation Forestry for the Arkansas Field Office of The Nature Conservancy. There, he directed and promoted conservation forestry project development, conservation planning and forest land acquisition throughout the state. Mr. Fox is a native Arkansan who worked as a procurement forester in a family-owned lumber business in Pine Bluff and Sheridan for over 20 years. Mr. Fox formerly served on the Jefferson County Conservation District Board and as the Forestry Committee Chair of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts. He is a former president of the Arkansas Forestry Association and former chairman of the Arkansas Forestry Commission. Mr. Fox currently serves as the president of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF). He holds two bachelors degrees from North Carolina State University in forestry and agricultural economics.
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James Gulliford
Former Administrator, EPA Region 7; former Soil and Water Conservation Society Executive Director
Jim Gulliford directed soil and water conservation programs for the state of Iowa from 1982 to 2001. He then joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as Region 7 Administrator, and in 2006, he served as assistant administrator for Chemicals and Pesticides. In 2009, Mr. Gulliford became executive director of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. In 2017, he returned to the EPA as Region 7 Administrator and retired from that position in 2021.
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Leonard Jordan
former Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting Chief; former NRCS Associate Chief for Conservation; former NRCS Eastern Regional Conservationist; former NRCS State Conservationist in Georgia, Washington
Leonard Jordan has spent more than four decades building a portfolio focused on conserving our natural resources. Having worked across the nation, Mr. Jordan has worked with several interest groups, government agencies and non-profit organizations to ensure that our environment is protected. His passion is to work with the American public, providing assistance that helps improve their lives and bring resilience to rural America. As acting chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Jordan oversaw programs that preserve our natural resources and improve agricultural sustainability through voluntary, private-lands conservation. He led a staff of more than 10,000 employees across the country. Mr. Jordan served as NRCS’s associate chief for conservation from 2013 to 2017, where he led the agency’s conservation mission area, including all of NRCS’s conservation programs. He served as regional conservationist for the east region from 2009 to 2012, and previously served as state conservationist in multiple states, including Georgia and Washington State. As a retired federal service leader, Mr. Jordan now offers consulting services to conservation-minded organizations and landowners. When he’s not working to advance conservation and agriculture, Leonard enjoys gardening and fishing trips. He and his wife, Altregia, live in metro-Atlanta.
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Cindy Lair
Colorado Department of Agriculture, Director Colorado State Conservation Board (CSCB), Conservation Services Division; former president, National Association of State Conservation Agencies
Cindy Lair manages the Colorado State Conservation Board (CSCB) and other conservation programs for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. The CSCB provides financial support and statutory oversight to the 76 conservation districts within Colorado. A natural resources management graduate of Colorado State University, she represents the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the critical nexus of natural resources/natural climate solutions/agriculture by serving on the U.S. Climate Alliance Natural and Working Lands Team for Colorado and representing agriculture on Governor Polis’s GHG Reduction Roadmap Team. Ms. Lair coordinates the department’s implementation of a state Soil Health Program and works closely with partnering agencies and conservation districts to ensure focus on incentivizing innovation and voluntary conservation. She served on the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Western Region Administrative Council for 10 years and served as president in 2012-13. Cindy became an alumna of the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Class in 2014.
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Ray McCormick
Lifelong conservationist; 2010 Indiana Master Farmer
Ray McCormick is a fourth-generation farmer from southwestern Indiana, with life-long passion for conservation. He raises 2,500 acres of corn and soybeans using 100 percent no-till. Mr. McCormick utilizes variety cover crops on all of these acreages and has a wetland restoration and construction business. He specializes in creating wildlife habitat, prairie restoration, wetland restoration and migratory bird habitat and enjoys helping other landowners to do the same. Mr. McCormick has a waterfowl hunting business and spends the winters guiding waterfowl hunters with his two labs. He’s spent all of his adult life working on conservation issues at the local, state and national level, with a motto: “I never say no when it comes to conservation.” Recent awards and achievements: Successful Farming Magazine, National Search to find America’s Top Conservation Farmer “Farming in the Flyways Contest” National Top Award Winner, 1990 National Wetlands Conservation Award, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for the outstanding record of accomplishment in conserving and restoring wetlands to benefit wildlife and other resources, 1991 Environmental Law Institute, National Wetlands Protection Award Winner, (Business Category), 1992 2010 Indiana Master Farmer 2010 National No-till Farmer Magazine, No-till Innovator of the year Past President of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and I now serve on the National No-tillage Conference 2017 No-Till Legend award. The Indiana Nature Conservancy Board of Directors
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Tim Palmer
National Association of Conservation Districts Immediate Past President; diversified farmer in South Central Iowa
Immediate Past President Tim Palmer operates a 1,200-acre row crop and cow/calf to finish operation near Truro, Iowa. He has served on the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District’s board since 2003, and has held the titles of director, vice president and 2010-2011 president of the Conservation Districts of Iowa, the state’s district association. Mr. Palmer was a governor-appointed member of the Iowa State Soil and Water Conservation Committee from 2012 to 2014. In 2013, he was elected to represent the NACD North Central Region, where he served for four years. Mr. Palmer and his wife Shelly, along with sons Geoff and Greg, use conservation measures extensively on their farm and are active promoters of water quality and soil health initiatives.
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Laura Wood Peterson
President, LWP Consulting
Laura Wood Peterson, president of Laura Wood Peterson Consulting, leads federal strategy for Indigo Agriculture and represents conservation-minded clients in Washington, D.C. She has served as head of federal government and industry relations for Syngenta and director of federal affairs for NACD. Ms. Wood Peterson is a member of the Kansas Bar and American Bar Associations and attended Kansas State University and George Washington University Law School, where she taught American politics as adjunct faculty in the Undergraduate Political Science Department. She grew up on a family farm in Kansas and co-operates a diversified cow/calf operation in eastern Montana with her husband, Jess.
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Dr. Victoria Reinhardt
Ramsey County Commissioner, St. Paul, Minnesota, National Association of Counties; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee; Recycling Association of Minnesota Chairwoman
Victoria Reinhardt is a Ramsey County Commissioner and has served on the Ramsey County Board since 1997. She is a member of the Association of Minnesota Counties’ Environment and Natural Resources Committee, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Local Government Advisory Committee, and is chair of the Water Subcommittee of the Environment, Energy and Land Use Committee for the National Association of Counties. Dr. Reinhardt is also chair of the Ramsey/Washington Recycling and Energy Board and the Partnership on Waste and Energy. She is a governor appointee to the Minnesota Clean Water Council and the Statewide Geospatial Advisory Committee. Dr. Reinhardt is a founding board member and served as chair of the Recycling Association of Minnesota. She has been working on regional issues, such as solid waste management, transportation, housing and technology integration. She has testified before Congress about how local governments can work together. Commissioner Reinhardt holds a Doctor of Public Administration from Hamline University and a masters of business administration from Metropolitan State University.
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Dr. Karen Waldrop
Ducks Unlimited, Inc. Chief Conservation Officer
Dr. Karen Waldrop serves as chief conservation officer for Ducks Unlimited, Inc. (DU) and operates as a strategic leader and member of DU’s executive leadership team. Karen received her Ph.D. in wildlife biology/forest sciences from Clemson University and both her M.S. in wildlife biology/forest resources and B.S. in forest resources from University of Georgia. Prior to joining DU, Dr. Waldrop served as the deputy commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. She also has years of professional experience with waterfowl and migratory bird conservation and served as Kentucky’s representative to the Mississippi Flyway Council. In addition, she served as an executive councilmember of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative.
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