Holmes County’s Mast named to USDA post

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WASHINGTON – Ohioan Gary W. Mast has been appointed deputy undersecretary for natural resources and environment with the USDA.
The announcement was made Feb. 5.
Mast succeeds Merlyn Carlson, who retired from the position Jan. 5.
Conservation veteran. “Gary Mast is a seasoned veteran of agriculture and conservation issues,” said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in making the announcement.
“Gary is well regarded within USDA and by our stakeholders. His background and passion for conservation will be especially valuable as we move forward with the 2007 Farm Bill.”
Background. Mast currently serves as senior adviser to the chief of NRCS. Prior to this, he served as NRCS special assistant and chief of staff.
Prior to joining USDA, Mast served as president of the National Association of Conservation Districts. He has been a Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor from 1981 to 2005 in his home state of Ohio and was president of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Districts from 1995 through 1997.
Holmes County roots. Mast is a self-employed farmer, the sixth generation on an Ohio family farm that began in 1829. With his brother Jon, he farms 1,000 acres of farmland; custom forage harvests approximately 7,000 acres; and manages a 650-cow dairy herd. Among other distinguished service awards received,
Mast received the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Conservation Achievement Award, EPA District 5 Distinguished Service Award, and the Soil and Water Conservation Society Honor Award.
In 2004, he received honorary membership from Alpha Gamma Rho, a national agricultural fraternity. Additionally, until 2005 he was a member of the Bennett Agricultural Roundtable.
Mast received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Malone College in Canton. He is married and has two teenage children.
About the post. As deputy undersecretary, Mast will oversee NRCS and work closely with NRCS Chief Arlen Lancaster and undersecretary Mark Rey on conservation policy and operations issues.
The natural resources and environment mission area at USDA includes two agencies, the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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