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News Release

Natural Resources Conservation Service Associate Chief Departs on Year-Long Detail to Afghanistan

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Joins other USDA Employees in Supporting President's Commitment to Improving Agriculture, Resource Conservation, and Food Security

WASHINGTON, January 18, 2011 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that Ginger Murphy, Associate Chief of USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), will spend a year providing support to the agriculture mission in Afghanistan.

"The Obama administration has identified agriculture as the top reconstruction priority for the U.S. government in Afghanistan," Vilsack said. "One of the most important ways we can revitalize the country's once vibrant agricultural sector is by sharing the expertise of senior leaders like Ginger who offer their personal passion and knowledge to help protect and restore Afghanistan's vital natural resources."

In Afghanistan, Murphy will help implement and refine the country's agriculture strategy and will also help coordinate the many agricultural projects being implemented by all the U.S. Government organizations.

Murphy first went to Afghanistan last summer on a short-term assignment to help the Afghan government develop a plan to preserve and protect the country's natural resources in advance of a major donor conference.

In taking on a year-long commitment, Murphy joins more than a hundred USDA employees who have served as long-term advisors in Afghanistan since 2003. More than a quarter of USDA's advisors have been NRCS employees, providing expertise in areas such as crop production, plant protection, soil analysis, irrigation, conservation planning, natural resources management, animal health and livestock management, and program development and implementation.

As of January 2011, a dozen NRCS staff members are serving in Afghanistan, including six employees who have extended their tours after serving in-country for a year or more. Most NRCS advisors work as part of joint military-civilian teams in provinces across the country.

"As conservation professionals who understand the needs of agricultural producers, NRCS personnel bring uniquely relevant skills to the task of rebuilding Afghanistan's agricultural sector," NRCS Chief Dave White said. "Ginger Murphy brings to her work in Afghanistan not only a rich base of field experience but extensive program management and policy experience as well."

Murphy has been NRCS Associate Chief since June 2009 and during that time has been instrumental in implementing organizational changes and enhancing existing processes to increase the agency's efficiency and effectiveness. She began her career with NRCS as a soil conservationist and has served the agency in a variety of positions at both the state and national levels. She was the State Conservationist in Maryland and in Delaware before moving to NRCS headquarters, where she has held a variety of management responsibilities. During the writing of the 2008 Farm Bill, she served on a detail assignment as the Legislative Assistant for Agriculture to Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Murphy joins other NRCS staff members currently serving in Afghanistan, including the following six employees who have extended their initial tours: Caroline A. Clarin (NRCS Wisconsin), Gary S. Domian (on his fifth detail since 2004), James R. Green (NRCS Oklahoma), Kim B. Lively (NRCS Texas), Margaret G. Rhodes (NRCS Headquarters), and Willie Ruffin (NRCS Headquarters).

In addition to Murphy, the staff members who have recently deployed are Phillip R. Blake (NRCS California), Michael Clayton (NRCS Kentucky), Matthew D. Duvall (NRCS North Carolina), John D. George (NRCS Washington), and Floyd A. Wood (NRCS Headquarters).

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