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History of NRCS

A History of Helping People Help the Land

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) draws on a long history of helping people help the land. For more than 75 years, NRCS and its predecessor agencies have worked in close partnerships with farmers and ranchers, local and state governments, and other federal agencies to maintain healthy and productive working landscapes. The NRCS history website seeks to tell the story of this work. Below, it links to publications on a broad array of topics, significant original documents, and galleries of photos that document soil and water conservation in the United States.

A Brief History of NRCS

On April 27, 1935 Congress passed Public Law 74-46, in which it recognized that "the wastage of soil and moisture resources on farm, grazing, and forest lands . . .  is a menace to the national welfare" and established the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) as a permanent agency in the USDA. In 1994, SCS’s name was changed to the Natural Resources Conservation Service to better reflect the broadened scope of the agency’s concerns. In doing so, Congress reaffirmed the federal commitment to the conservation of the nation's soil and water resources, first made 75 years ago, that continues to this day. To read more about the history of NRCS click here: A Brief History of NRCS

 

NRCS History Publications

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Soil Conservation Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service have issued a number publications on the origins and development of soil and water conservation over the years. Many of these publications along with significant primary documents are being made available online for use as a public resource.  A complete list of these publications is available here.

 

NRCS on PBS' "The Dust Bowl"

During the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, we were called the Soil Conservation Service. Our mission was to help farmers take better care of their land. Filmmaker Ken Burns' portrays the early days of NRCS in his documentary "The Dust Bowl." Link to the series' web page and learn more about the history of NRCS here.