State ag leaders honor ex-ND official

BISMARCK – The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) has presented one of its highest honors, the James A. Graham Award for Outstanding Service to Agriculture, to North Dakota's former state entomologist.

“Dave Nelson's contributions to agriculture have been demonstrated in his work on county, state, regional, national, and international issues and projects with individual producers and exporters,” said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, who nominated Nelson for the award and who accepted it on Nelson's behalf at NASDA's recent annual convention in Asheville, NC.

A Minnesota native, Nelson graduated from Bemidji State University with a degree in biology and later earned a master's degree in entomology from North Dakota State University.

He joined the North Dakota Department of Agriculture as a plant protection specialist in 1982, and was appointed state entomologist in 1992. He retired in 2012.

Among Nelson's accomplishments, Goehring listed:

  • Working with U.S. and Canadian officials to develop three programs for importation and in-transit movement of U.S. wheat and barley seed and grain to Canada. 
  • Helping develop a multi-state memorandum-of-understanding between USDA and the states to promote national grading consistency and enhancing seed potato international trade. 
  • Playing a key role in developing practical approaches to managing Karnal bunt to protect and preserve North Dakota and U.S. wheat markets. 
  • Influencing the development of protocols and guidelines for the research of biotech wheat in North Dakota and wheat growing areas of the U.S.

Nelson was also nominated for the award by Mike Cooper, president of the National Plant Board. Letters supporting the nomination were sent by State Forester Larry Kotchman, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch; Brian Rex, senior grains and oilseeds specialist with the Canadian Food Inspection Service, and Dave Hirsch, USDA state plant health director for North Dakota.

The award is named for James A. Graham, who served as North Carolina commissioner of agriculture from 1964 to 2001.