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.

Categories: Rob Drieslein

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