HOME->Governance - Soil Health Institute

Governance

Board of Directors

Soil Health Institute Board of Directors (L-R): Jason Weller, Land O’ Lakes; Greg Ruehle, Servi-Tech, Inc.; Diana Jerkins, Organic Farming Research Foundation; Robert Foster, Foster Brothers Farm, Inc.; Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute; Wayne Honeycutt, Soil Health Institute; Klaas Martens, Lakeview Organic Grain; Andy LaVigne, American Seed Trade Association; Jim Gulliford, Soil and Water Conservation Society; Bill Buckner, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation; Lara Moody, The Fertilizer Institute; Bill Flory, Flory Farms; Earl Garber, National Association of Conservation Districts; Bruce Knight, Strategic Conservation Solutions LLC.; Larkin Martin, Martin Farm.

Not Pictured: Constance Cullman, Farm Foundation NFP; Dan DeSutter, DeSutter Farms, Inc.; Jerry Hatfield, Tri-Societies; Jay Vroom, CropLife America.

William (Bill) Buckner
President & CEO
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc.

Bill Buckner is the President and CEO of the Noble Research Institute, LLC, and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. The Noble Research Institute, an Agricultural Research Organization, conducts research, education and consultation activities, with its mission being “to deliver solutions to great agricultural challenges.” Philanthropic activities, including grant making and scholarship programs, take place in the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. Buckner joined Noble in January 2012.

After obtaining his BS degree in Agricultural Economics from the Univ. of Missouri-Columbia in 1980, Buckner gained experience in the agricultural industry in areas of agriculture retail, agriculture lending and animal health.

In 1993, Buckner joined Bayer AG as a Marketing Executive in their Animal Health business unit located in Shawnee Mission, KS. He moved to Monheim, Germany, in 1996 where he worked for the Animal Health Business Group as a Business Development Mgr. He became VP/General Mgr. of Bayer's Canadian Agricultural business in Toronto in 1998. Buckner was appointed President/CEO of Bayer CropScience, Inc., in Calgary, Alberta in 2002. He relocated to Research Triangle Park, NC, as Sr. VP of Commercial Operations for Bayer CropScience LP in 2004 and was appointed Country Head for the U.S. Crop Protection business in 2005. He was elected President/CEO of Bayer CropScience, LP in April 2006 and retired in December 2011.

Buckner currently serves on the boards of the Soil Health Institute (board chair), Wilbur-Ellis Company, Mercy Hospital Ardmore and the Farm Foundation. Buckner also serves as an industry advisor to the board of Trace Genomics, Inc. He had previously served on the boards of the National Wild Turkey Federation, The Liberty Foundation, CropLife Canada and CropLife America, where he served a term as Board Chair.

 

Constance Cullman
President
Farm Foundation, NFP

Constance Cullman was named President of Farm Foundation, NFP in June 2016. She succeeds Neil Conklin, who retired after serving as President since 2008. Prior to joining Farm Foundation, Cullman was U.S. Government Affairs Leader with Dow AgroSciences. She previously worked at the Corn Refiners Association, Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, and the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Cullman is a graduate of Ohio State, earning her bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics, and a master’s degree in agricultural economics with an emphasis on international trade and agricultural policy.

 

 

 

Daniel (Dan) DeSutter
President
DeSutter Farms, Inc.

Mr. Daniel DeSutter operates DeSutter Farms Inc., a 4,400 acre farm in west-central Indiana, producing corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and cover crops. His farm has become a national leader in soil conservation – an issue of rising prominence in Agriculture – and hosts tour groups from around the globe to learn from their soil health practices as well as their adaptations of site-specific technologies and GPS systems for agriculture. Mr. DeSutter is one of three farmers participating in the National Working Group on Cover Crops and Soil Health. In addition to his role with DeSutter Farms, Mr. DeSutter is a managing partner for Hoosier Grassfed Beef, LLC, the largest producer of 100% grass-finished beef in the Midwestern United States. He will examine various solutions to soil health in South America and Australia that could be applicable in the United States. Mr. DeSutter is especially interested in the various economic, cultural and societal influences that encourage farmers to become good stewards of the land.

 

 

William G. (Bill) Flory

Since 1904, Bill Flory is the fourth generation family member to farm the fertile soils of the rolling Camas Prairie in north central Idaho, just adjacent to the Washington, Oregon, Idaho border intersection. The diversified operation’s continuous crops include four classes of wheat, bluegrass seed, canola, lentils, garbanzos, malt barley, and hay.

Soil health and plant health are a primary focus in the operation that has been utilizing direct seed and leading technologies for the past 25 years. Some of these include site specific soil and tissue testing; soil amendments; field zoning; and detailed micronutrient and growth regulator utilization.

Bill currently is president of Flory Farms; board chairman of the wheat industry’s Wheat Marketing Center in Portland; a commissioner and past chairman of the Idaho Wheat Commission; a member of the Farm Foundation Roundtable; a member of US Bank’s advisory board; and a director of the Lewiston Roundup.

Flory’s past involvement includes board member, committee chair, and president of both the Idaho Grain Producers and the National Association of Wheat Growers; and commissioner and chairman of the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission. In 1977 Bill earned a B.S. in finance from the University of Idaho.

 

Robert Foster
President
Foster Brothers Farm, Inc.

Bob Foster and his family run a thriving 1,800 acre farm located in Middlebury, Vermont. Bob is a fourth-generation farmer who received his undergraduate and Masters degrees from University of Vermont in Agricultural Engineering and Agriculture Economics. The Fosters were one of the pioneers of "Cow Power" with Bob actually coining the term. A proponent of bioenergy, the Fosters were among the earliest to install an anaerobic digester on their farm. The digester consists of a huge tank and supporting equipment where cow manure is treated and the methane gas that's released is captured and converted to run generators, creating electrical energy. The Foster Brothers Farm has been largely electrical energy independent ever since.

The Fosters have developed one of the largest compost companies in New England. They gather residual nutrients from their own and neighbors' farms, process manure for use as fertilizer, blend the different formulas together, and distribute the resulting product (through their company, Vermont Natural Ag Products, as MOO™ Doo) throughout New England as fertilizer and soil amendments. Bob Foster served on the Cabot Cheese Board of Directors for 37 consecutive years.

 

Earl Garber

Earl Garber, former President of the National Association of Conservation Districts, is a licensed crop sconsultant and rice, soybean and hay producer from Louisiana. He started his involvement in conservation as a Soil Scientist, Soil Conservationist and District Conservationist with the USDA. He has been active on the Acadia Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors in Southwestern Louisiana since 1981. Garber recently served as the President of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts. He also held the position of Louisiana Board Member for the National Association of Conservation Districts.

Garber has his own farming operation, which includes 670 acres of rice, soybeans, grain sorghum, timber and commercial hay production. Earl also provides daily service to area producers as a Louisiana licensed crop consultant and field services manager for Sanders, Inc., Seed Company. Garber and his wife, Janis Landry, live and farm in the northwestern portion of Acadia Parish, Louisiana.

 

 

Jim Gulliford
Executive Director
Soil and Water Conservation Society

James B. Gulliford is the Executive Director of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. The Society is committed to research and the application of soil and water conservation practices on agricultural landscapes to improve agricultural productivity and environmental quality. Before joining the Soil and Water Conservation Society, he served 2.5 years as EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, and 5 years as EPA Regional Administrator in Kansas City. Prior to that he directed soil and water conservation programs for the State of Iowa, Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Mr. Gulliford is a member of the Board of Directors of the Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation whose purpose is to promote a broader understanding of agriculture as the most basic human endeavor, and to enhance agriculture through research and increased scientific knowledge. He holds a BS degree in forestry management and MS degree in forestry economics and marketing from Iowa State University.

 

Jerry L. Hatfield, Ph.D.

Dr. Jerry L. Hatfield is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America and Past-President of the American Society of Agronomy and member of the American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union and Soil and Water Conservation Society. He is the Laboratory Director of the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and co-PI on the Agriculture Model Improvement and Intercomparison Project. He is the recipient of numerous awards and was elected to the ARS Hall of Fame in 2014 for his research on improving agriculture and environmental quality and received the Hugh Hammond Bennett award in 2016 for his national and international work on soil conservation from the Soil and Water Conservation Society. His personal research focuses on quantifying the interactions among the components of the soil-plant-atmosphere system to quantify resilience of cropping systems to climate change and development of techniques to enhance decision-making for agriculture. He leads the agriculture sector for the National Climate Assessment, a member of the IPCC process that received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and lead on the agriculture indicators of climate change for the USGCRP. He is the author or co-author of 437 refereed publications and the editor of 17 monographs.

 

Diana Jerkins
Research Director
Organic Farming Research Foundation

Dr. Diana Jerkins has been involved in multiple roles with educational institutions, state and federal governments and non-profit organizations in supporting the advancement of sustainable agriculture in the US and internationally. Currently, she is the Research Director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation in California leading their efforts to provide direct funding to researchers, farmers and ranchers to conduct scientific research and educational advancements for organic producers.

For eleven years, Dr. Jerkins was a National Program Leader and Division Director for Integrated Programs with the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). She managed competitive programs in the areas of mitigation and adaptation to climate change, managed ecosystems, invasive species, small and mid-sized farm prosperity, rural development, and Native American outreach. She had leadership responsibilities for development and management of NIFA competitive Climate Change and Food Systems Integrated Programs. As co-leader of the Science for Sustainability working group, she led agency-wide activities supporting sustainable and organic agriculture programs. Interagency activities were in the areas of Long Term Agricultural Research programs (LTAR), chairing the NIFA Ecosystem Services Working Group, and NIFA liaison to the NASULGC Board on Natural Resources, USA National Phenology Network, and OSTP Ecosystem Service Task Team. She has lead efforts in the development of new programs within NIFA such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) and an interagency program with EPA on Enhancing Ecosystem Services for Agricultural Lands.

Prior to joining NIFA, Dr. Jerkins directed the Center for Regenerative Studies (CSRS) at Cal Poly Pomona in Pomona California. CSRS is an educational and residential intentional community where students learn and live in a sustainable environment based on passive-solar building, energy, water, and food systems. She was also a teaching and research faculty member with the College of Agriculture. Her graduate work was at the University of Georgia with degrees in Agronomy and Entomology. She consults internationally on sustainable agriculture issues. Professional activities and professional associations have include the Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies; Ecological Society of America; Federal Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability working group; and USDA Sustainable Development Council.

 

Bruce I. Knight
Principal and Founder
Strategic Conservation Solutions, LLC

Bruce Knight is a nationally recognized expert on conservation, agriculture and the environment. With a long track record of bringing strategic workable solutions to complex and controversial issues, he understands the workings of farm and conservation policy from the grassroots to the national level. Coupled with his national policymaking experience is a pragmatic approach to issues harvested from his personal farming enterprise.

Today, as a consultant focused on conservation and environmental issues related to agriculture, Knight provides a visionary and unique perspective on the future of conservation policies. He understands the potential value to his clients in agriculture, environment, wildlife and food systems of cutting-edge ideas and strategies such as carbon markets and other ecosystem services. Drawing on his experience as a former association executive, lobbyist, regulator and Capitol Hill staffer, Knight has a broad understanding of how Washington works. But he also brings firsthand knowledge of farming to his national policymaking credentials. Knight was the Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from 2006-2009. In this post, he provided leadership and oversight for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Agricultural Marketing Service and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration. These agencies protect animals and plants and promote fair, open and orderly markets for U.S. agricultural products. Safeguarding America’s flocks, fields and forests from pests and diseases is worth billions of dollars in losses avoided by farmers and ranchers.

From 2002 to 2006, Knight served as Chief of Natural Resources Conservation Service, the lead USDA agency for conservation on private working agricultural lands. During the nearly five years under his leadership, the agency assisted 1 million farmers and ranchers in applying conservation on more than 130 million acres of working farm and ranchlands. Knight provided the strategic vision for the development, implementation and management of the largest expansion of working lands conservation programs in the agency’s history.

A third-generation rancher and farmer and lifelong conservationist, Knight operates a diversified grain and cattle operation using no-till and rest rotation grazing systems. His farming and ranching background gives him the opportunity to practice stewardship and husbandry, providing firsthand knowledge of the interdependency of animal, plant and human health with the environment. Knight attended South Dakota University. He is married and has two children. He is a member of the Vienna Presbyterian Church in Virginia and is an avid sportsman.

 

Andrew (Andy) W. LaVigne
President and CEO
American Seed Trade Association

Andrew W. LaVigne is currently the President and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association. He joined ASTA in February, 2006. Andy has had a 25-year career in government relations, industry representation, public affairs advocacy, and management. His core areas of expertise include agriculture, food policy and international trade.

Prior to joining ASTA, Andy was Executive Vice President/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, representing citrus growers on issues affecting their business. Previous to joining Florida Citrus Mutual, Andy spent four years as Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association’s (FFAA) President and Executive Director. FFAA is a non-profit, agricultural trade organization representing companies that specialize in crop protection and plant nutrition products.

Before his position at FFAA, Andy spent eight years in Washington, D.C. working in the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He served as Legislative Director for Congressman Charles Canady and as Agriculture Committee staffer for Congressman Tom Lewis.

Andy is a native of Florida with a BA degree in Political Science from the University of Florida and a Minor in Economics.

 

Klaas Martens
Partner
Lakeview Organic Grain

Klaas Martens has been farming for over 45 years. He and his partner, Mary Howell, spent their first 20 years farming conventionally and began transitioning to organic in 1993. Together, with their son Peter, they farm 1600 acres of a wide diversity of certified organic crops, and own and operate Lakeview Organic Grain, a certified organic animal feed and seed business.

They double crop a substantial acreage and cover crop all of our land each year. Klaas works closely with researchers at Cornell who study soil health and organic farming systems, and has reviewed three SARE grants for on-farm research. In addition to the SARE projects, Klaas published papers on organic fertility management. He and Mary-Howell have written many articles on organic farm management for publications including New Farm, Acres USA, and Organic Broadcaster. Klaas is on the Soil Health Institute Board of Directors, the Organic Farming Research Foundation Board of Directors, the Farm Foundation Board of Trustees, and the Yates County conservation district Board of Directors (20 years).

 

V. Larkin Martin
Managing Partner
Martin Farm

V. Larkin Martin manages her family’s row crop farming operation in Lawrence County, Alabama. In addition to her farming responsibilities, Ms. Martin holds and has held a number of positions off of the farm. She is currently a Director of Rayonier Inc., (RYN), a timberland REIT headquartered in Jacksonville, FL and a Trustee and Member of the Executive Committee of The Farm Foundation, a Chicago based, non-advocacy, public charity that promotes objective analysis on issues critical to the future of agriculture, food systems and rural communities. She is Vice Chairman of the Alabama Ethics Commission and a member of the Board of Directors of PARCA, The Public Research Affairs Council of Alabama, Africa Harvest, a Kenyan based NGO helping to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and rural communities across Africa by improving their access to agricultural technology, Camp Merrie-Woode, a summer camp for girls in North Carolina and the Vanderbilt Alumni Association. In addition to those roles Ms. Martin is involved at a leadership level in local business, civic and community organizations.

A partial list of past responsibilities include serving as a Director and past Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, a Director and past Chairman of The Cotton Board, the board overseeing the national check-off program for cotton, a Director of The Alabama Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and a Director of Leadership Alabama. Ms. Martin was named an Eisenhower Fellow in 2012.

After graduating from Vanderbilt with a BA degree and prior to returning to the farm Ms. Martin lived in Washington, DC and held jobs in at the US Treasury Department and with Arthur Andersen. She is married to John Thornton and they have 4 children.

 

Lara Beal Moody, P.E.
Senior Director, Stewardship and Sustainability
The Fertilizer Institute

Lara Moody is the senior director of stewardship and sustainability programs at The Fertilizer Institute (TFI). She joined TFI in 2004 and is responsible for directing development and implementation of the Institute’s programs to increase the use and adoption of fertilizer best management practices and for leading development and delivery of an industry sustainability initiative addressing fertilizer production, fertilizer use, and the food supply chain.

Since 2005, Lara has served on the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) Board of Directors, currently in the role Chair. She also serves on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Air Quality Task Force. Within the fertilizer industry, she oversees the 4R Research Fund Management Committee and manages the TFI’s 4R Nutrient Stewardship Committee.

Prior to joining TFI, she performed research and extension efforts in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department at Iowa State University in the area of manure and wastewater handling and treatment and nutrient management planning. Lara served as the program manager for the Agricultural Waste Management Laboratory at Iowa State University where she managed projects and coordinated regional and national research and extension efforts.

Lara is a Registered Professional Engineer who received a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering and Master of Science degree in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

 

Jeff Moyer
Executive Director
Rodale Institute

Jeff Moyer, Executive Director of Rodale Institute, is a world renowned authority in organic agriculture. His expertise includes organic crop production systems with a focus on weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. Jeff is perhaps most well-known for conceptualizing and popularizing the No Till Roller Crimper for use in organic agriculture. In 2011, he wrote Organic No-Till Farming, a publication that has become a resource for farmers throughout the world.

Jeff brings a farmer’s perspective and approach to issues in organic agriculture. He is a past chair of the National Organic Standards Board, a founding board member of Pennsylvania Certified Organic, the Chairman of the Board of Director of The Seed Farm, part of the Green America Non-GMO Working Group, a Project Member of The Noble Foundation’s Soil Renaissance project, and a Board Member of PA Farm Link.

In September 2015, Jeff was appointed as Executive Director of Rodale Institute after spending the last four decades at the Institute, helping countless farmers make the transition from conventional, chemical-based farming to organic methods.

 

Greg Ruehle
President & CEO
Servi-Tech, Inc.

Greg Ruehle serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer for Servi-Tech, the nation’s largest independent agronomic firm. In this role, Ruehle manages a diverse staff of nearly 200 agronomists, laboratory technicians, information technology, sales and communication staff members across the company’s 8-state footprint. Annually, Servi-Tech agronomists consult on nearly 1 million acres of agricultural land for growers and the cooperative-owners of the company. Additionally, Servi-Tech has three laboratory locations (Dodge City, KS; Hastings, NE: and Amarillo, TX) that evaluate nearly a half-million agricultural samples (soils, feeds, environmental samples, etc.) annually. Servi-Tech is headquartered in Dodge City in southwestern Kansas.

Ruehle also served as Chief Executive Officer for the Independent Professional Seed Association, based in Omaha, NE. In this capacity, Ruehle managed the day-to-day administrative and fiduciary responsibilities for a national trade association representing nearly 100 independently-owned seed companies throughout the US and Canada. Ruehle served in this position from November 2005 through January 2015. Greg also served for 10 years as the Executive Vice President of the Nebraska Cattlemen, with primary association management and government affairs responsibilities for the nearly 5,000-member statewide group. In addition to managing a staff of twelve, Ruehle managed state and federal government relations and represented the Association as a speaker before numerous statewide, national and international audiences.

Ruehle’s association career began with the National Cattlemen’s Association (now National Cattlemen’s Beef Association), where he served in various positions, including Director of Private Lands, Water and Environment in the Washington, DC government affairs office. Greg represented the Association before Congress, Federal agencies and the Administration on a range of environmental and natural resource policy areas.

Greg has a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Agriculture from Oklahoma State University, as well as having graduated from the Ranch Management Program at Texas Christian University. Greg and his wife, along with their two children have relocated to Dodge City from eastern Nebraska. The family also maintains a diversified, family-owned livestock operation in eastern Ford County near Dodge City.

 

Jay Vroom
President & CEO
CropLife America

Jay Vroom has served as president and chief executive officer of the trade association known as CropLife America (CLA) since 1989 and has been a leader in U.S. agribusiness trade associations for his entire career. In his current role with CLA, Vroom heads the leading U.S. trade group for the crop protection industry in the U.S. CLA is primarily involved in issue management and advocacy for the industry and its agricultural allies.

CLA performs federal and state lobbying, science and regulatory advocacy, and proactive litigation work on behalf of its members. Its principal issues revolve around articulating the benefits of crop technology in enhancing food, fiber and renewable fuel production; and advocating for clear, science-based regulations, which ensure the safe and effective use of crop protection tools. Through its membership in the Brussels-based global federation CropLife International (CLI), CLA is a strong voice in many international venues on issues critical to the plant science industry. Vroom is a senior member of CLI’s Crop Protection Steering Council.

Vroom is a founding member of the CropLife Foundation, serving as chairman since its inception in 2001, and now serves as the Foundation’s Vice-Chair, since 2015. Based in Washington, D.C., CLA has a principal staff of more than 30 professionals. CLA operates with several affiliated organizations including CropLife Political Action Committee, of which he serves as treasurer; RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), a parallel organization to CLA which addresses issues pertinent to the non-agricultural uses of public health protection products and fertilizers; and, of course, CropLife Foundation.

Vroom was a member of the youth organization, Future Farmers of America, and served as an elected state officer in Illinois. Today, he is a member of The FFA Foundation’s Individual Giving Council. He is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) and continues to actively support that organization.

Prior to joining the CropLife staff, Vroom has held various positions in executive capacities with the National Fertilizer Solutions Association (now the Ag Retailers Association), the Merchants Exchange of St. Louis and The Fertilizer Institute. He graduated with honors from the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Vroom was raised on a grain and livestock farm in north-central Illinois and continues to own the farming operation.

 

Jason Weller
Senior Director of Sustainability
Land O’Lakes

Jason Weller joined Land O’Lakes, Inc., in 2017 as senior director of sustainability where he will lead providing environmental sustainability and agricultural production solutions for the cooperative’s members and owners.

Jason previously served as Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the nation’s largest working lands conservation organization, where he led a staff of 10,500 employees across the country that works one-one-one with farmers and ranchers to deliver assistance to protect and improve the quality of their operations’ natural resources. While at NRCS, Jason led the effort to significantly expand the agency’s new partnerships with public and private organizations—including agricultural retailers, agricultural supply chain companies, and food companies—to provide innovative and effective services for agricultural producers. Jason also provided the strategic leadership for NRCS’s expanded focus on and investment into soil health, including providing significant financial and technical assistance for public-private partnerships to launch on-the-ground soil health demonstration and education projects, as well leading the creation of NRCS’s new Soil Health Division that is helping to advance the agricultural and conservation communities’ understanding of soil health management.

Prior to serving as Chief, Jason held various agriculture and natural resource conservation leadership positions, including on the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture where he provided oversight and crafted legislation to fund USDA programs and activities; on the U.S. House Budget Committee where he helped construct the annual congressional budget for agriculture, environment and energy programs; and in the White House Office of Management and Budget where he assisted with the development and implementation of the president’s budget for USDA conservation programs.

Jason earned a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and a master of public policy degree from the University of Michigan.