"The simple fact of the matter is I need Ms. York and her senior executive slot," White said, to help run the agency, including oversight of emergency and economic stimulus programs. "It's a critical job for us, and she has the skills to do that."
White said bay region farmers need not fear that the USDA is abandoning them as EPA officials press for more regulation of farming. "I've been in agriculture a long time,'' the chief said, "and believe in the voluntary incentive approach, working with producers to comply and do bay cleanup and help them stay on the land....and that mindset is not going to change no matter where Ms. York is assigned." White said others at NRCS would be assigned to work with the bay program.
The poultry industry's Satterfield acknowledged there may be other reasons for reassigning York, but added in an email: "It just seems odd that if the Chesapeake Bay is such a priority for the Obama government, then why would it remove a knowledgable, career person who was working hard on bay restoration issues?"
York, reached last week while on leave, declined to discuss her reassignment, but urged bay farmers to stay engaged in the bay restoration policy debate. "This is an important time for agriculture to step up to the plate and be part of the conversation. Through good conversation and our actions, we'll have better policy enacted. USDA is supportive of that and will continue to be there to support it.... Agriculture does understand now that this is an important time to be part of the solution."