Soil Health Briefing

The Soil Health Institute, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Land Stewardship Project, and General Mills in conjunction with Representative Tim Walz (MN-1) are excited to provide a Valentine’s Day Soil Health Briefing to Congressional Staff!

Farm bill programs can help farmers build and sustain soil health by providing access to information and resources that support the adoption of effective conservation management techniques. Panelists will speak on: the research, science and economics behind soil health; on-farm conservation activities; and the importance of farm bill programs in advancing soil health efforts.


When: Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Time: 11:45 pm to 1 pm
Time: 334 Cannon House Office Building

Lunch will be provided – please RSVP
Learn about the benefits of soil health and opportunities to further advance soil health from farmers, researchers, and policy experts..



Dr. Wayne Honeycutt is the President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute, where he leads the Institute’s programs to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soils. He previously served for 5 years as the Deputy Chief for Science and Technology with USDA-NRCS in Washington, DC; for 10 years as a Research Leader and 14 years as a Research Soil Scientist with the USDA-ARS New England Plant, Soil, and Water Laboratory. Wayne’s commitment to agriculture is rooted in his experiences with raising tobacco, corn, and other crops on his family’s 120-acre farm in Metcalfe County, Kentucky.

Dr. Rob Myers is a faculty member in Plant Sciences at University of Missouri.  He oversees a number of projects related to cover crops and soil health both regionally and nationally.  He has done field research on cover crops and is a frequent speaker on topics related to cover crops and soil health. He recently served as Co-Chair of the National Working Group on Cover Crops and Soil Health.  His Ph.D. in agronomy is from University of Minnesota, and he grew up on a family farm in central Illinois.

Jimmy Kinder is a 4th generation farmer/rancher from Cotton County Oklahoma. His family farms 8,000 acres. His primary business enterprises are stocker cattle, wheat, canola, and grain sorghum. He is an early adopter of no-till production practices in southwest Oklahoma. His 20 years of success in grazing and harvesting grain has encouraged many producers to change to no-till conservation production methods. He is active in local, state and national agriculture issues. Jimmy graduated with a BS in Agronomy from Cameron University in 1980. 

Jon Jovaag grew up on a family farm in southern Minnesota and after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1995 in Agriculture, he worked in livestock production for 15 years.  In 2011, Jon, with his wife Ruth and four children, returned to his roots on his parents’ family farm, where Jon and Ruth now farm full-time together. They have certified half their land as organic, and they farm the other half conventionally – growing corn, small grains, alfalfa and soybeans. They also raise pigs, sheep, goats and cattle. Jon prioritizes soil stewardship and conservation with an eye towards making his farm profitable for generations to come.  He has adventured into cover crops, limited till organic farming, reducing off farm inputs, and has been a leader in Land Stewardship Project’s Federal Policy Steering Committee, advocating and speaking on behalf of farm practices and public policy that supports farmers stewarding the land.

Alyssa Charney is a Senior Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) in Washington D.C. She leads the coalition’s work on farm bill conservation, working with NSAC’s member organizations to advance conservation priorities that support the sustainability of food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. She holds an M.S. in Agriculture and Food Policy and an M.P.H from Tufts University. Alyssa has previously worked on food and agriculture policy at the Center for Rural Affairs, New England Farmers Union, and the National Farm to School Network.

Erika Baum is a Government and Public Affairs Representative for General Mills in Washington, D.C. She has been with the company for nine-years, and in Washington D.C. for nearly 25 years, including eight years in the Executive Branch. General Mills serves the world by making food people love. Helping to feed people has been at the root of who we are for well over a century. Improving the lives of farmers who grow our ingredients while protecting the natural resources upon which our business and communities depend is a priority. The overarching goal is to provide a thoughtful strategy, raise awareness about the critical role that soil health plays in environmental sustainability and to encourage transformation in agricultural supply chains.

What is soil health?

Soil health is the ability of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. The health of our soils is essential to providing clean air and water, as well as ensuring productive cropland, grazing lands, and forests. Healthy soils function to regulate water, sustain plant and animal life, filter and buffer potential pollutants, cycle nutrients, and provide physical stability and support for plant roots.

Soil Health & Agriculture: Farm Bill Opportunities

Farmers and ranchers depend on healthy soils for the productivity and success of their operations. They also drive soil health investment by adopting the practices and management strategies that support healthy soils and subsequently protect and enhance our shared natural resources.

Farm bill programs and policies are critical to supporting farmers and ranchers in expanding their soil health practices. Panelists will speak to the research and science behind soil health investment, on-farm experiences with adopting soil health practices, as well as discuss the significance of farm bill programs that support these efforts.