ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Matt Lohr, a fifth-generation farmer and the owner and operator of Valley Pike Farm in Broadway, is leaving the Shenandoah Valley to go to work for the Trump Administration.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in a press release on Monday that Lohr has been appointed to serve as Chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
"We are the agency that's part of the USDA that works with farmers to be better stewards and to be better conservationists of their land," said Lohr.
Appointed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Lohr will begin his new position on Wednesday.
“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 said it was a lengthy process. He was contacted this summer about the position, and then had six weeks of intensive interviews. Secretary Perdue appointed Lohr in September, and then he had to go through White House vetting. Last week, he got the official "green light."
Lohr was raised on a farm in the Valley and has years of farming experience, but this is not his first time holding public office. He served as Virginia's Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2010 to 2013 and as a delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2006 to 2010.
Lohr also 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 then, he's been farming full-time, with poultry, cattle, row crops, and sweet corn on his family operation.
In his new role, Lohr will help to provide technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers across the country so they can implement conservation practices on their land. He will lead the organization of 11,000 NRCS employees and 3,000 offices around the country.
"I love farming and I love conservation," Lohr said. "Our farm's been recognized over the years for our efforts that we've done to protect soil and water quality, so we've believed in it first-hand. To be able to take that love of the environment and conservation to DC to lead a federal agency and assist other producers nationwide is such a humbling and amazing opportunity."
Lohr will spend his time traveling to different farms and work under Secretary Perdue to make sure the farms are efficient, effective, and providing good customer service.
Valley Pike Farm is known for its sweet corn operation, which Lohr said will continue. His farm manager, Don Carney, will work with his parents and wife to continue the operation, and Lohr will oversee it when he is home.