Nebraska Farmers Recognized by White House as Champions of Change for “Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, October 26, the White House recognized 13 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 were 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.
Keith and Brian Berns of Bladen, NE were among those recognized as Champions of Change. They are co-owners and operators of Providence Farms, a 2000 acre diversified family farming operation in Bladen NE 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 and Brian also spend countless hours educating farmers and ranchers about the importance of soil health and carbon sequestration through numerous field days, workshops and conferences.
In reflecting on this honor, Keith commented:
“Our connection to the land runs deep as we have been farmers all of our life but only recently have we begun to understand the complexity of the soil ecosystem and the promise that it holds for better crops, healthier food, and a more stable environment. By studying how God created soils, plants, and microorganisms to interact and thrive in nature, we have been leveraging the power of biology to improve our soils, increase our crop yields, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Through no-till farming, crop diversity, and living cover crops, we are storing and building our soil carbon levels by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and putting it into the soil where it becomes the currency for a wonderfully complex economy of plants and soil microorganisms. We are convinced that the only logical solution to increased atmospheric CO2 levels is to farm in a manner that has more plants growing more often (cover crops) to sequester the carbon into the soil and to avoid practices that will re-release large amounts of CO2 (tillage or burning). This realization led us to start Green Cover Seed in 2009 and from a small and humble beginning with a SARE Farmer/Rancher grant to over 3,500 customers and over 1 million acres in all 50 states, we are blessed far beyond all that we could ask or think.”
Keith and Brian, along with the other Champions of Change met with leaders from the United States Department of Agriculture to discuss sustainable agriculture practices. The awards program also featured 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. 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.