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A new private sector-led model will deploy conservation specialists in the field, building knowledge and capacity
WASHINGTON – Forging a new path for accelerating and scaling agricultural conservation is at the heart of a new public-private partnership announced today by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Truterra, LLC, the sustainability business at Land O’Lakes, Inc., one of America’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives. This new partnership will support conservation specialists deployed alongside agricultural retailers, who serve as farmers’ most-trusted advisors, to build knowledge and capacity in order to support conservation practices around the country.
NFWF and Truterra leaders said this new systems-approach to advance private sector delivery of on-farm stewardship would benefit both farmers and their agricultural retailers, while also complementing NRCS conservation programs and field offices. Truterra and NFWF will be expanding this network of conservation specialists and agricultural retailers in 2020, with the goal to build a national network of these experts to improve customer service for farmers.
“When they need advice, resources or support, farmers turn to their most trusted advisor, their local agricultural retailer,” said Jason Weller, vice president of Truterra, LLC. “Ag retailers have deep expertise to advise farmers on their crop production success and integrating these conservation experts into their agronomy services is an exciting way to connect farmers with stewardship opportunities to improve soil health and nutrient management.”
“Farmers are incredible stewards of their lands and enhanced private sector involvement is a critical piece of the partnership-based approach we must take to support farmers’ land stewardship,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “This collaboration is a new model that will provide a real boost for farmers’ conservation efforts by bringing together public-private involvement to enhance the capacity of retail advisors.”
Truterra and NFWF identified two initial states – Iowa and Ohio – to “field test” the concept in a range of geographies. Initial investment from agricultural retailers Heartland Co-op (Iowa) and Heritage Co-op (Ohio), matched through NFWF fundraising, is funding the three pilot positions. Conservation Specialists funded in the pilot will:
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