WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 23, 2015) — On Monday, October 26, the White House will recognize 12 individuals from across the country as White House Champions of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture. These individuals were selected by the White House for their achievements and will be honored for exemplary leadership and innovation in agricultural production and education.
The Champions have helped implement agricultural practices that promote soil health and energy efficiency, improve water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change can no longer be seen as a distant threat. It is already impacting forest, grassland, and cropland systems in the United States, and is threatening agricultural producers and their communities.
These Champions understand the challenges our nation is facing from a changing climate and are taking steps to build resilience to the impacts of climate change, which also protects their bottom line. The program will feature remarks by United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals who are doing extraordinary things to inspire and empower members of their communities. The event will be live-streamed on Monday, October 26 at 2:00 PM ET. Visitwww.whitehouse.gov/live/ to tune in. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions. You can also follow the conversation at #WHChamps and #ActOnClimate.
Anita Adalja – Washington, D.C.
Anita Adalja is the Farm Manager at Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. Anita serves the Washington, D.C. metro area to create a more equitable and sustainable food system through increasing food access, sustainable farming, farmer training and ‘farm-to-school’ education. Under Anita’s management, Arcadia Farm grows thousands of pounds of naturally-grown produce that is sold in low- or no- food access areas in Washington, D.C. through their mobile farmers’ market program. A social worker by training, Anita previously farmed at One Woman Farm in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania and was the Farm Manager for Common Good City Farm in Washington, D.C.
William “Buddy” Allen – Tunica, Mississippi
Buddy Allen is a producer in Tunica, Mississippi and a member of the Macon Edwards Company, a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm. He is actively involved in several agricultural businesses, including a large-scale multi-crop farming operation in Mississippi. Buddy is a leader in conservation on the farm and holds a leadership role in several agricultural and conservation organizations.
Keith Berns – Bladen, Nebraska
Keith Berns and his brother Brian are co-owners and operators of Providence Farms, a 2,000-acre diversified family-farming operation in Bladen, Nebraska and Green Cover Seed, one of the nation’s leading providers of cover-crop information and seed. Green Cover Seed has grown from supplying seed and information for 1,000 acres of cover crops in 2009 to over 500,000 acres in 2015. Green Cover Seed’s “SmartMix Calculator” is the industry standard for planning and designing cover-crop mixes and is used extensively across the country. Keith spends countless hours educating farmers and ranchers about the importance of soil health and carbon sequestration through field days, workshops, and conferences.
Larry Cundall – Glendo, Wyoming
Larry Cundall, a Vietnam War Veteran and fourth-generation rancher from Glendo, Wyoming, is a leader in his ranching community. His priority is managing his land for increased productivity while protecting wildlife and natural resources for future generations. Larry manages water in an effort to decrease water use and cut down labor costs, has switched from windmills to solar wells, and has added miles of waterlines for better water use and grazing distribution. He was one of the first ranchers in Wyoming to sell carbon credits, and led efforts to help ranchers unite to sell wind leases on the windblown shortgrass prairie. For more than 25 years, Larry has served as an advisor for agriculture research and outreach grants on behalf of the University of Wyoming and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Western SARE program.
Herman “Trey” Hill – Rock Hall, Maryland
Trey Hill serves as Partner and Manager of Harborview Farms located in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Harborview Farms produces corn, wheat and soybeans for the Mid-Atlantic region, with a focus on sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship. Under Trey’s direction, Harborview has taken 4.5 percent of its 12,500 acres out of production due to being in environmentally sensitive areas. Harborview Farms uses best practices, including no-tillage, nutrient management plans, and planting cover crops on 100 percent of its acres. Trey has embraced the environmental community by serving as a panelist on multiple environmental forums and by hosting a Community Supported Agriculture endeavor on his land.
Loretta Jaus – Gibbon, Minnesota
Loretta Jaus and her husband Martin operate a 410-acre, rotationally-grazed, 60-cow dairy farm in south-central Minnesota. In 1980, with Biology and Wildlife Management degrees, the couple settled in as the fourth generation on Martin’s family farm. Their training created a solid foundation for the farm’s conservation focus and subsequent transition to certified-organic production. Loretta currently serves on the boards of the Land Stewardship Project and Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, has functioned as organic representative in Environmental Initiative’s Agricultural Leadership Dialogue project, and as an educator for CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley’s Outreach and Education Program.
Martin Kleinschmit – Hartington, Nebraska
Martin Kleinschmit is the owner of an organic farm in Nebraska that produces grains and raises grass-finished cattle on annual and permanent pastures. The farm maintains natural fertility using crop rotation, cover-crop mixtures and animal impact. After recognizing the need for a high-microbial life to foster carbon sequestration, Martin mentored other farmers through a 4-year program that was instrumental in enrolling over 60,000 Nebraska acres in a USDA organic transition program. In his 17 years serving as a staff member for the Center for Rural Affairs, Martin managed and taught projects to inform farmers of the importance of soil carbon. In an effort to conserve the use of fossil fuels, Martin now owns and manages MarLin Wind & Solar, LLC. He currently holds positions on the rural water district board and the Nebraska Farmers Union.
Jennifer “Jiff” Martin – Storrs, Connecticut
Jiff Martin is the Sustainable Food System Associate Educator for the University of Connecticut Extension, which is part of the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources. Jiff has worked for over 12 years on food and agriculture issues in Connecticut, helping residents discover local agriculture, connecting kids to healthy, whole foods, and researching community food security in Connecticut’s 169 towns. Her recent work includes leading a team of Extension Educators to assist new farmers in production and farmland management; directing two AmeriCorps service learning programs; and educating consumers through BuyCTGrown.com’s 10% Campaign, under which residents and businesses are asked to pledge 10 percent of their food and gardening budget to locally-grown products. Jiff was previously State Director for the American Farmland Trust and Food Policy Director at Hartford Food System.
Jesus Sanchez – Fresno, California
Jesus Sanchez serves as Farm Manager for Sano Farms – a diversified tomato, almond, wheat, garbanzo, and garlic farm spanning 4,000 acres in Firebaugh, California. Firebaugh is a small town of about 8,000 people in the heart of the western portion of San Joaquin Valley. For over ten years, Jesus has implemented a number of innovative conservation agriculture practices including the use of cover crops and strip-tillage at Sano Farms. These practices have resulted in considerably less diesel fuel use, dust and soil water evaporation, and increased soil carbon – all of which contribute to the farm’s resilience and sustainability. Jesus has been an eager spokesperson for these conservation farming practices, has hosted numerous tour groups and provided many presentations to farmers from all over the world who are excited to learn from him.
Erin Fitzgerald Sexson – Rosemont, Illinois
Erin Fitzgerald Sexson is Senior Vice President of Global Sustainability at Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, a forum for the dairy community to work together pre-competitively to foster research, measurement and innovation for farm-to-table sustainability. Under Erin’s leadership, the Innovation Center conducted environmental impact assessments that propelled an industry-wide voluntary carbon-reduction goal, and provided tools and resources to measure and track progress. She is currently leading the effort to enhance dairy’s contributions toward a more sustainable food system by examining the intersection between nutrition, health, hunger, food waste and environmental impact.
Timothy Smith – Eagle Grove, Iowa
Tim Smith is a fourth-generation farmer who raises soybeans, corn and cover crops on his family’s Century Farm in Wright County, Iowa. In addition to raising crops, Tim is focused on strengthening soil health and improving water quality. He has worked with a number of organizations, including the Iowa Soybean Association and the Soil Health Partnership, to implement new farming methods. Tim travels throughout Iowa and the United States advising farmers on how to approach new sustainability efforts.
Donald Tyler – Beech Bluff, Tennessee
Donald Tyler is a soil management researcher in the Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Department at the University of Tennessee. He has done research in soil management for over 37 years. He is being honored for his research and outreach contributions in the areas of no-tillage cropping systems. These systems have reduced soil erosion by up to 95 percent, enhanced soil carbon storage from 1 percent to 4 percent, and increased soil biodiversity. When he arrived at the University of Tennessee, soil erosion rates were some of the highest in the United States. No-tillage adoption now tops 70 percent for corn, soybean and cotton acreage in the state.