Message from the State Conservationist
William E. Puckett, Ph.D.
I hope your New Year is off to a good start! There are many exciting activities and opportunities as we enter calendar year 2014; new Farm Bill, budget, hiring new staff, soil health, and the StrikeForce Initiative, to name a few. Hopefully we will be rolling out information on the Farm Bill soon. I know you and your customers are anxious to get started with the new streamlined programs. We do have a budget and will begin to fill some vacancies soon. I am asking Assistant State Conservationist (FOs) to have meetings on cover crops to get ideas from the field staff on how more farmers can realize the benefits of growing cover.
We had a Black History Event at the State Office on February 26, 2014. The featured speaker, Mr. Bobby Hayden was an inspiring individual. What a path he has traveled. It reminded me of the many paths we all travel each day and how we strive to be better human beings with joy and passion for our life, family, jobs, etc. The theme of our celebration was “Civil Rights in America: Remember! Celebrate! Act!” I hope we all remember the sacrifices, celebrate the victories, and act like we want to be treated. As Mr. Hayden stated, “We are all Americans and it does not matter the color of our skin.”
I was in California the first of February 2014 at the National Association of Conservation Districts’ meeting where Chief Weller outlined his priorities for the next three fiscal years. The priorities are: (1) Implement the new Farm Bill, (2) Get a clean opinion on the audit, (3) Implement the Conservation Delivery Streamline Initiative, (4) Implement the Foundational Maintenance and Improvements, (5) Improve the State Resource Allocation process, and (6) Implement Administrative Transformation. The Chief stated that these six items would be the “foundation for the future” for NRCS. We will provide more information on these topics as it becomes available.
Congratulations to the Madison County Earth Team for receiving the 2014 National NACD/NRCS Earth Team Award. Volunteers are important to our mission and I appreciate everyone’s efforts in recruiting and supporting local volunteers in your office. Regardless of our challenges in 2014, we will continue to do what we do best, serving our customers, improving our communities, and ensuring the viability and stability of our natural resources through good conservation practices and sound technical advice. What you do matters. Remember that voluntary, locally-led conservation is the formula to success.
Dr. William E. Puckett
“Helping People Help the Land!”