U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Dec. 3 the appointment of Matthew J. “Matt” Lohr to serve as chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Lohr will take over for Leonard Jordan, who has been serving NRCS as the acting chief since 2017. In his role, Lohr will provide leadership for NRCS and its mission to support America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in their voluntary conservation efforts through a network of over 3,000 offices in communities nationwide.
“Matt has committed his entire life to the betterment of agriculture,” Perdue said. “The knowledge and experience he brings to the table will help ensure our locally-led, science-based approach continues to offer farmers the conservation solutions needed to enhance their environment and commercial viability.”
Lohr, raised on a century farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, now owns and operates Valley Pike Farm, Inc., with his wife Beth and their six children. Prior to his appointment by the Trump Administration, Lohr held public office, serving in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2006-2010. In 2008, Lohr was awarded Legislator of the Year in honor of his work as an ambassador for economic and community development in Virginia. He then served as Virginia’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2010 to 2013. More recently, Lohr worked as Knowledge Center Director for Farm Credit of the Virginias, a customer-owned financial cooperative that provides resources and education outreach to local farmers and the community. Since June 2017, he has been farming full-time on the family operation, which includes poultry, beef cattle, row crops and sweet corn.
“I am honored and humbled to serve America’s agricultural industry in this new capacity,” Lohr said. “As a fifth-generation farmer, I care deeply about conserving and protecting our most valuable agricultural resources. I look forward to the chance to lead this valuable agency and assist our producers nationwide with their conservation practices.”
The National Assn. of Conservation Districts (NACD) welcomed the long-anticipated appointment. NACD president Brent Van Dyke said, “In addition to being raised on a farm, Matt Lohr has proven his commitment to agriculture and conservation through his nearly 30 years in leadership capacities. NRCS is a crucial partner in the federal, state and local government conservation partnership, and I applaud USDA for its diligence in appointing a strong leader.”
NACD chief executive officer Jeremy Peters added, “As a fellow Virginian, I am confident Lohr has the experience, passion and work ethic to lead NRCS and advance voluntary, locally-led conservation efforts in partnership with the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts. His extensive career as both a policymaker and a farmer gives him insight into effective program delivery and customer service working with landowners to implement conservation programs, to protect natural resources and to build sustainable conservation solutions.”
NRCS, through voluntary natural resource conservation programs, works side-by-side with producers, local conservation districts, and other partners to protect and conserve natural resources and build sustainable farming solutions through soil conservation on private lands throughout the United States.