Missing Tony Dean today
A friend in conservation sent me the press release below to note the appointment of the new NRCS chief. I've spent some time trying to research Mr. White and generally am developing a semi-positive vibe about the man. He has strong credentials and experience, and Sen. Tom Harkin praised White's efforts working on the conservation title of the past two farm bills as a staffer on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“Dave White has an outstanding career-long record of helping farmers and ranchers practice sound conservation on the land, so I was very pleased to hear that Secretary Vilsack has appointed him as chief of NRCS,” Harkin said. “Dave played a critical role in helping to shape the conservation titles in the last two farm bills. I am confident that his experiences will serve him well as he assumes leadership of USDA’s conservation efforts and carries out the conservation initiatives of the new farm bill.”
However you feel about Harkin's politics, he's generally taken a strong approach toward including a conservation component in federal legislation. I don't take his endorsement lightly.
A year ago, I could have called the great Tony Dean and asked for his perspective. Tony knew every public servant on the conservation scene — federal and state level alike — in this part of the country. If Tony gave someone a thumbs-up, I could sleep soundly knowing said bureaucrat was in power. He didn't mince words to me once about a past NRCS chief, and when I met that particular NRCS chief at a function a few months later, he didn't mince words about his feelings for Tony! That's what made the Dakota Backroads guru so effective for conservation, and frankly, entertaining. But Tony passed away last October, leaving a huge legacy but also a huge void in the outdoors media. We'll do our best at Outdoor News to monitor what happens at NRCS under Dave White's tenure.
AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK SELECTS DAVE WHITE AS NRCS CHIEF
WASHINGTON, March 24, 2009—Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack today named Dave White as chief of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). With approximately 12,000 employees and an annual budget in excess of $3 billion NRCS is the nation's leading agency in conserving natural resources on private lands.
"Dave White's extensive experience working with the NRCS and at the local, state and national levels is exactly what we need during this time of economic uncertainty and renewal," said Vilsack. "Dave's expertise and advice will be particularly valuable as we implement the 2008 Farm Bill and work to achieve President Obama's goals for renewing America and combating global climate change."
Established in 1935 as the Soil Conservation Service, NRCS emphasizes voluntary, science-based conservation and technical assistance, incentive-based programs, and partnership conservation at the local level.
White is a career conservationist with NRCS. He has provided technical and management expertise in Missouri, South Carolina, Washington, D.C. and Montana, where he served as State Conservationist from 2002 to 2008. White also served in the Senate Agriculture Committee where he helped craft the Conservation Title for both the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills. He also served on the White House Task Force for Livable Communities during the Clinton Administration. White was named Acting Chief of NRCS on January 21, 2009.