Thursday, April 27, 2017

Happy 82nd Anniversary

On April 27, 1935 Congress passed Public Law 76-46, in which it recognized that "the wastage of soil and moisture resources on farm, grazing, and forest a menace to the national welfare," and it directed the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) as a permanent agency in the USDA. In 1994, Congress changed SCS's name to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to better reflect the broadened scope of the agency's concerns. The creation of the Soil Conservation Service represented the culmination of the efforts of Hugh Hammond Bennett, "father of Soil Conservation" and the first Chief of SCS, to awaken public concern for the problem of soil erosion. Bennett became aware of the threat posed by the erosion of soils early in his career as a surveyor for the USDA Bureau of Soils. He observed how soil erosion by water and wind reduced the ability of the land to sustain agricultural productivity and support rural communities who depended on it for their livelihoods. He launched a public crusade of writing and speaking about the soil erosion crisis. His highly influential 1928 publication "Soil Erosion: A National Menace" influenced Congress to create the first federal soil erosion experiment station. Congress has continued to expand the programs of the Agency (SCS/NRCS) as the importance of sustainable agriculture has become more apparent with continued population growth. Between our son Jon and I, we have been continuously employed by the Agency since the spring of 1948. That amounts to our immediate family being involved for 69 of the 82 years of the Agency's existence.

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