The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and a diverse group of conservation and commodity groups joined together in sending a letter to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White in support of the NRCS soil health awareness and education effort. The effort is designed to highlight the benefits of improving and maintaining America’s soil.

“Every ecosystem and every living organism is dependent upon soils,” said NACD President Gene Schmidt. “Healthy soil is the basis of clean air, clean water, and a safe and secure food supply for the future. It also increases our ability to mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events on the land, ensuring farmers and ranchers can continue to produce the food, feed, fiber and fuel the nation needs no matter what Mother Nature throws at us.”

According to the letter, signed by more than 20 groups, “achieving soil health is part of a systems approach to agriculture production that benefits the landscape, reduces nutrient loading and sediment runoff, increases efficiencies, and sustains wildlife habitat, while providing the potential for cost savings to producers.”

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program and other conservation programs play an important role in promoting implementation of conservation practices that increase organic matter, water infiltration, water-holding capacity, and nutrient cycling which are all components of healthy soil.

“We stand ready to work with NRCS to help identify the costs and benefits of the various conservation practices in order to assist producers when making decisions about whether to adopt practices,” stated the groups in the letter. “By using cropping systems that promote soil health, we supply a stable food system and mitigate risks of flooding and drought.  From farming, to grazing, to shipping on the Mississippi River, conservation practices promote soil health.”

To view the full letter, click here: www.nacdnet.org/policy/input/letters/Soil_Health_Coalition_Letter.pdf. For more information on the NRCS soil health awareness and education effort, visit: www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/newsroom/?cid=STELPRDB1049251.