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Looking Back and Forward

Posted Jun. 1, 2001

As most of you are aware, the Agricultural Division has undergone some significant changes within the past two years. One of the most dramatic was in the division's management structure. The Ag Management Group, which has been operational since February 2000, now directs the division. The group's first order of business was developing a strategic plan, which was completed in June last year. Recommendations from our task forces became effective July 1. These guidelines affect the division's staff, the agricultural producers who use our services, and other people and organizations we interact with. Most people have been understanding and cooperative about different methods of doing business as the Agricultural Division has worked to implement changes. Comments from those of you who started using our services within the past year, as well as from the many long-established users, have been positive, and we appreciate your taking the time to express your thoughts.

We increased the number of educational events we host, which was another significant change. Since July 1, 2000, we have hosted more than fifty on-site activities that we developed for our cooperators, students, and other groups, and we're planning more. If you want information about upcoming events or would like us to consider a topic for a seminar or tour, please contact Education and Special Projects Manager Shan Ingram.

Placing cooperators into two groups, those who depend on a farm or ranch as their primary source of income and those who have nonfarm income as their primary source, was also a major change. Although most of the information provided to the group with nonfarm income is given via small group educational events or office visits, this change allowed us to provide information faster and to more people. Thanks to all of you who completed new data sheets and returned them as requested. We realize this exercise was somewhat inconvenient, but it allowed us to move into the computer age by efficiently updating our file system and activating our agricultural database.

Retirements, resignations, planned staff additions, and changes in responsibilities have led us to hire eight people since May 2000. Six are already here, and two have agreed to come soon. Despite all these new staff, we still have seven more positions to fill, which we plan to do by the end of the year. These new staff will certainly increase our ability to provide information and services, as well as enhance existing programs and disciplines within our new divisional structure.

Soon, we will begin evaluating the progress we've made since the strategic plan took effect, and we'll assess what we need to do to continue our progress. As we evaluate the activities of the past twelve months, fill positions, and move into the next year, our primary mission remains to help agricultural producers and other stewards of natural resources achieve their financial, production, and quality of life goals. We'll also continue to strive to discover and demonstrate practices and technologies that help producers and stewards of this great land manage and conserve natural resources.

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