April 28, 2021

The Conservation Fund, CEO Larry Selzer honored by Leading Harvest for work in sustainable agriculture

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Conservation Fund and its President and CEO Larry Selzer were presented with the Founders’ Award by Leading Harvest, a nonprofit organization committed to increasing adoption of sustainability practices in agriculture. The inaugural award recognizes the organization and its leader for contributions made over several years to advance sustainable agriculture.

Larry Selzer
Larry Selzer

In announcing the award, Leading Harvest noted that Selzer and The Conservation Fund were instrumental in convening a broad group of agricultural stakeholders as the Sustainable Ag Working Group—including representatives from farming, labor, academia, scientists, environmentalists and conservationists, asset managers, and food suppliers—to build consensus, develop and implement the first-of-its-kind Leading Harvest Farmland Management Standard. The award is named to recognize the significant contributions by the founders of Leading Harvest, both the members of the Sustainable Ag Working Group and the inaugural Leading Harvest board of directors.

“Leading Harvest’s achievement of cracking the code of agricultural sustainability by developing a universal, certifiable standard that can be applied across geographic regions, diverse environments, crop types and scales of operation would not have been possible without the leadership of Larry and the staff of The Conservation Fund,” said Oliver S. Williams, IV, Global Head of Agricultural Investments for Hancock Natural Resource Group and Leading Harvest Board Chairman. “Larry and The Conservation Fund possessed the credibility, leadership and vision to build consensus, encourage diverse stakeholders to challenge the status quo and embrace adaptable yet certifiable metrics that will change lives and improve livelihoods.”

For more than three years prior to Leading Harvest’s formal launch in April 2020, Selzer and The Conservation Fund guided the Sustainable Ag Working Group as they researched best practices, field tested the Standard’s application across regions and crop types, sought input from local farmers, environmentalists, conservationists, agriculture equipment, industry experts and producers, and developed certifiable metrics to measure positive sustainability outcomes.

Selzer’s role in guiding the development of a universal, outcomes-based, agricultural sustainability standard came after helping craft a similar metric for forestry, called the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which has more than 375 million acres of timberland enrolled in its standard by more than 100 member companies.

“I am humbled and honored to be the recipient—along with The Conservation Fund—of the inaugural Leading Harvest Founders’ Award. Our goal in developing Leading Harvest’s Standard was to launch an outcomes-based agricultural standard that would break down the silos of sustainability while encouraging adoption by empowering farmers—the original conservationists—to achieve desired outcomes through means that made the most sense for their individual operations,” said Larry Selzer, President and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “With over 50 percent of Earth’s habitable surface in agricultural production and nearly 1 billion people globally working in an agricultural-related field, Leading Harvest is helping ensure everyone has access to healthy soil, food and water for generations to come.”

Leading Harvest’s Farmland Management Standard is made up of 13 sustainability principles ranging from clean water and air to labor relations and community engagement. To date, Leading Harvest has enrolled over 1.1 million acres in its Standard across 29 states and accounting for 90 different crop types.

About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund is a national nonprofit dedicated to making conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, the Fund is redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, the Fund has worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 8.5 million acres of land.

About Leading Harvest
Leading Harvest is a nonprofit organization committed to increasing adoption of sustainability practices in agriculture. It was formally organized in April 2020 by and for all stakeholders across the agricultural value chain—from farmland owners to companies to communities. The organization provides assurance programs comprised of standards, audit procedures, training and education, and reporting and claim offerings that are optimized for flexibility, scalability, and impact. More information can be found at www.leadingharvest.org.

Contact: Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809