NRCS Chief Matt Lohr Visits OKC for National Land Judging Contest, Talks Farm Bill ImplementationFri, 03 May 2019 14:52:45 CDT
The soil types and the ranges of Oklahoma have been a challenge and a blessing to many generations of agricultural producers. Matt Lohr, Chief of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service, (NRCS) in speaking to the contestants of the 68th National Land and Range Judging Contest on Thursday night (May 2) at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, said that in a lot of ways the same can be true for them.
Lohr, is a fifth-generation farmer from Virginia serving as the 16th Chief of NRCS and is the first in his position to have attended this contest. As Chief, Lohr provides leadership for NRCS and its mission to support America's farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in their voluntary conservation efforts through a network of more than 3,000 service centers in communities nationwide. He discussed his role and his department’s efforts to implement the new regulations under the 2018 Farm Bill during this event with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays.
When it comes to that monumental task of implementing the regulations of the new Farm Bill, according to Lohr, the USDA’s NRCS staff is working hard and making some substantial strides towards its completion.
“I would say really my No. 1 priority for this year is to really make sure we get this right with the rules and implementation of the regulations of the Farm Bill,” he said. “We started immediately. We’ve got our work groups in place going line by line and making sure we get everything formulated. So, we are making good progress.”
According to Lohr, the changes made by Congress in the legislation has an emphasis on urban agriculture, organic production and charges him and his team to find ways in which to make these programs serve a broader base of customers. Lohr’s approach to crafting these rules comes directly from Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue’s overarching mission to improve USDA’s customer service. He says he and his staff are currently in the process of vetting ways in which they can make programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) more efficient and streamlined. To him, this process is an opportunity to help producers achieve their goals.
“I’m convinced farmers and ranchers want to do the right thing, but some of our practices are expensive. Good conservation is the right thing to do, but it also makes financial sense,” he said. “So, really it’s the perfect opportunity to incentivize our farmers and provide cost share dollars to help farmers do the good work they want to do.”
You can listen to Lohr’s complete conversation with Hays to hear more of his remarks pertaining to the progress being made in implementing the guidance of the 2018 Farm Bill, and his views on other topics including the importance of soil health, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
Nearly 700 4-H and FFA students and over 200 coaches from over 34 states gathered for this year's National Land and Range Judging Contest on Thursday. After two days of practice at sites in the Oklahoma City area, the contest was held near El Reno, Oklahoma at the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribal Headquarters.
4-H and FFA students match their skills in judging the adaptability of the land for various purposes, including farming, range management and home development. The skills the teens apply at the contest involve principles they can use in career fields such as environmental and agricultural management, natural resource conservation, home building and construction.
The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD) was the primary host of the national event along with about 30 additional sponsors. NRCS as well as the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and so many other conservation partners work throughout the year to make the annual event a success.
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