Lincoln Journal Star: White House honors Nebraska farmers leading fight against climate change

White House honors Nebraska farmers leading fight against climate change




Two Nebraskans got kudos at the White House on Monday for their leadership and innovation in promoting sustainable and climate-friendly agricultural practices.

Keith Berns of Bladen and Martin Kleinschmit of Hartington were among a dozen people honored during the ceremony.

Berns and his brother Brian started Green Cover Seed, a leading provider of cover-crop information and seed. They say their 2,000-plus-acre farm in south central Nebraska has been continuous no-till for more than 12 years.

Keith Berns works to teach farmers and ranchers about the importance of soil health and carbon sequestration through field days, workshops and conferences.

Green Cover Seed supplied seed and information for 500,000 acres of cover crops in 2015.

“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,” Keith Berns said in an emailed statement.

“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.”

Martin Kleinschmit of Hartington, an organic grain and cattle farmer, promotes naturally fertile land using crop rotation, cover-crop mixtures and animal-impact grazing. He mentored others through a four-year program that was instrumental in getting 60,000 Nebraska acres into a USDA organic transition program.

Kleinschmit also owns and manages MarLin Wind & Solar, which develops small-scale solar and wind projects.

The recognition comes as part of President Barack Obama’s recognition of environmental issues and focus on climate change.

In a statement, White House officials said climate change is imminent and is threatening agricultural producers and their communities.

Increasingly severe floods, drought, wildfire and other factors pose an immediate threat to the lives and livelihoods of the nation’s farmers, ranchers and land managers, officials said.

The producers honored take the effects of climate change seriously and, in their work to mitigate those effects, also protect their bottom lines, the White House said.