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NACD elects new officers, approves farm bill principles

During the National Association of Conservation Districts' Annual Meeting recently in Nashville, Tenn., members elected a new officer team and approved a set of guiding principles for the 2012 Farm Bill. Gene Schmidt of Hanna, Ind., was officially sworn in as NACD's new president. One of Schmidt's priorities in the coming year will be a renewed push on conservation awareness.

"We have 3,000 conservation districts working on the ground day in and day out to make a difference for conservation in their local communities," Schmidt said. "The combined impact of these local, voluntary efforts is measurable conservation at a landscape scale; and that's something we can, and should, be proud of."

Schmidt has been a member of the LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District board since 1983, and has held numerous leadership positions in the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, where he served as president in 1995 and 1996. In addition to his local- and state-level district work, Schmidt has been active at the national level since the mid-1990s, most recently serving as NACD's president-elect. The new NACD officer team also includes: Earl Garber, Louisiana, first vice president; Jack Majeres, South Dakota, second vice president; and Steve Miller, Idaho, secretary/treasurer.

"As districts, we need to do a better job of educating the public about the work of conservation districts and the benefits we provide to local landowners, communities and the nation," Schmidt continued. "Part of that education needs to happen at home, in our local communities; and part of it needs to happen in Washington, D.C., especially as we head into the next farm bill with a lot of new faces in Congress."

As part of NACD's educational outreach on Capitol Hill, the board approved a number of priorities for legislation, policy and appropriations for the coming year, in addition to a set of ten guiding principles for NACD's advocacy efforts in advance of the 2012 farm bill. The farm bill principles support:

--Resource-driven and locally-led conservation programs;

--Full funding for technical assistance needs;

--Conservation program funding;

--Easily accessible conservation program delivery system;

--Education and outreach;

--Commitment to working lands;

--Sustainable and renewable energy from agriculture and forestry;

--The unique complexities of forestry on non-industrial, private forest land;

--Development of new approaches to conservation delivery; and

--New conservation technologies.

For more news from NACD's Annual Meeting, visit www.nacdnet.org.

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