WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2015 – The White House honored 12 “Champions of Change” in sustainable agriculture Monday for using and promoting management practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve environmental conditions and grow local economies.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack delivered the keynote address at the White House awards ceremony, saying he hopes the awardees – all “Champions of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture” – would “help unify people over food and agriculture.”

“There’s a tremendous amount of progress in agriculture to be celebrated,” Vilsack said. And “I think it’s important and necessary to use this (event) as an opportunity to bring people together, because we have a good story to tell – you have a good story to tell” – about the intersection of conservation and agriculture, he told the recipients.

To further honor the honorees and their work in sustainable agriculture, cover crops will be planted in the White House Kitchen Garden next week, to “improve soil quality, reduce erosion and increase soil carbon.”

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The honorees “understand the challenges our nation is facing from a changing climate and are taking steps to build resilience to the impacts of climate change,” the White House said in a press release. The awardees were:

-Anita Adalja, the farm manager at Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, based in Washington, D.C.

-William “Buddy” Allen, a producer in Tunica, Mississippi, and a member of the Macon Edwards Company, a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm.

-Keith Berns, a co-owner and operator 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.

-Larry Cundall, a Vietnam War veteran and fourth-generation rancher from Glendo, Wyoming.

-Herman “Trey” Hill, the partner and manager of Harborview Farms in Rock Hall, Maryland, within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

-Loretta Jaus, the operator of a 410-acre, rotationally-grazed, 60-cow dairy farm in Gibbon, Minnesota.

-Martin Kleinschmit, the owner of an organic farm in Hartington, Nebraska, that produces grains and raises grass-finished cattle on annual and permanent pastures.

-Jennifer “Jiff” Martin, an associate educator for sustainable food systems with the University of Connecticut Extension.

-Jesus Sanchez, the manager of Sano Farms – a diversified tomato, almond, wheat, garbanzo, and garlic farm spanning 4,000 acres in Firebaugh, California. 

-Erin Fitzgerald Sexson, senior vice president of global sustainability for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, a dairy community forum that works together pre-competitively to foster research and innovation in farm-to-table sustainability. Sexson is based in Rosemont, Illinois.

-Timothy Smith, a fourth-generation farmer who raises soybeans, corn and cover crops on his family’s Century Farm in Wright County, Iowa.

-Donald Tyler, a soil management researcher in the Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Department at the University of Tennessee.

For more information on this year’s White House “Champions,” click here. To learn more about the “Champions of Change” program, previous honorees and how to make a nomination, click here.


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