Rules and regulations for programs authorized under the 2018 Farm Bill for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service programs are being written and rolled out as quickly as possible, NRCS Chief Matt Lohr said while addressing the close to 500 people attending the 2019 Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water, held in Wichita on Nov. 7-8.
Lohr, a fifth-generation farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, has farmed full time on his family’s Century Farm since 2017. The operation includes poultry, beef cattle, row crops and sweet corn. He has spent his life working to make agriculture better and advocating for stewardship on working lands.
In his speech to the conference, Lohr shared some of the core values he brings to the job of leading NRCS and what he believes are the guiding principles of the organization whose job it is to help farmers determine the best conservation practices for their land.
“2019 has been a challenging year for agriculture across the country,” he said. “It has been a record year for natural disasters from flooding to wildfire to tornadoes and blizzards. NRCS has some funds available through EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program) to help farmers recover. This year we were able to use some funds to help producers whose land was flooded, making it impossible to get cash crops planted, get the funds to put in cover crops and keep their land covered during the summer.”
He said the agency is also working to develop an emergency recovery plan process for protecting watersheds in weather emergencies by finding private sponsors to help fund the effort.
“We are all in this together,” he told the water users, legislators and other officials at the conference. “We are all partners in conservation.”
Finally, he said, the guiding principles of NRCS are: love the land, serve our farmers, work hard, do the right thing, be a partner, be caring to others, be an example and leave a legacy.
Lohr and his wife, Beth, have six children, and he said they are his motivation.
“All that we are doing every day, we are doing for the next generation,” he said.