Delta Farmers Advocating Resource Management or Delta FA.R.M., an organization that has enrolled more than 1.2 million acres of Delta farmland in conservation programs since its beginning, will receive a first place Gulf Guardian award from the Gulf of Mexico Program.

The Gulf of Mexico Program, which is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development. The program began in 1988.

“The Gulf Guardian Awards Program is in its 10th year of honoring citizens, governments and businesses throughout the Gulf Region for outstanding environmental achievements,” said Bryon Griffith, director of the program, a consortium of state and federal government agencies, business and agricultural community representatives, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists and community leaders.

“Our 2009 award winners are truly an inspiration and exemplify the high quality of projects being done that generate as much excitement and pride as the award winners did in the beginning. With the addition of the Binational Gulf Guardian award in 2005, we now appropriately pay tribute to the bond we share in protecting this treasured resource with our southern neighbors and friends.”

Delta F.A.R.M. is an association of growers and landowners that strive to implement recognized agricultural practices which are conserving, restoring, and enhancing the environment in the Yazoo-Mississippi River Delta region of Northwest Mississippi.

“Delta F.A.R.M. helps producers in the region address natural resource concerns by using tools that promote economic and environmental sustainability,” said Mike Sturdivant, Jr., the current Chairman of Delta F.A.R.M. and farmer from Glendora. “In doing so, the organization has been successful in accruing environmental benefits while fostering significant support from the agricultural and environmental community.”

Currently, there are 1,254,464 acres of land in Yazoo-Mississippi River Delta enrolled in the voluntary program. Participating producers submit to annual evaluations to document the current conservation efforts in the region. Numerous programs and services are provided by Delta F.A.R.M. to assist producers.

The farmer-lead organization provides these services free of charge and implements watershed improvement projects by leveraging technical and funding support provided by private entities, state and federal natural resource agencies and non-governmental organizations to benefit its membership and the environment.

Among the private entities that support Delta F.A.R.M. are Syngenta, Monsanto, FMC and Farmers Grain Terminal, who have supported the organization since its inception and continue to serve as the organization’s primary sponsors.

Over 21 non-governmental organizations and state and federal natural resource agencies participated in the development of the program to assist producers in attaining the highest possible level of land and water resource stewardship. The purpose of the program is to ensure a more sustainable and profitable future for agriculture.

While Delta F.A.R.M. operates exclusively within the Yazoo Basin in Northwest Mississippi, the efforts of the organization and its farmer members have benefited water quality in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.

“The Gulf of Mexico is a priceless treasure,” said Stanley Meiburg, acting administrator of U.S. EPA Region 4. “As a unique habitat, a place which gives pleasure to countless Americans, and a source of some of our most valuable resources, it has no equal. These Gulf Guardians who labor to protect and enhance this magnificent sea deserve our highest praise and thanks.”