CASPER – Lois Van Mark is well versed in agriculture, from field work on the family farm to computer records for the United States Government. The Goshen County native is putting her experience to good use in her second term as the Farm Service Agency State Director for Wyoming.
Van Mark filled the position during the George W. Bush Administration, and this appointment was announced on Friday, Nov. 3.
“It’s good to be back,” Van Mark said during a recent telephone interview from her Casper office. “In some ways, it’s like I never left, and in some ways it’s going to be a lot different. We’ll have a lot of different faces because of retirements, and the electronic access with so much digitized. It’s going to be interesting until I figure out the computer. But I’m learning.”
According to Van Mark, she will oversee all 17 FSA county offices and approximately 65 employees.
She said one of her main responsibilities is the efficient distribution of the office’s budget throughout the state’s 23 counties.
“The distances we have to travel in Wyoming can make the job difficult, especially when it comes to face time,” she said, adding that electronics are accommodating when it comes to communication with the outlying offices.
Van Mark pointed out the convenience to producers who can submit their crop reports and receive copies by email, so they don’t have to return to the office.
“It’s those little innovations that are important to producers in Wyoming and other western states,” she said.
Van Mark said the most important part of Farm Service Agency is to project the face of the Secretary of Agriculture’s policy in providing the best service possible to the American farmers. She said that Secretary Perdue has stated he wants the USDA to be the most effective, most efficient, and best managed department in the federal government. He has stated that through a series of seven videos on YouTube outlining his seven Strategic Goals for USDA. These goals are based upon his motto to ‘Do Right and Feed Everyone.’
When it came to changes in operations since her first term as state director, Van Mark said there haven’t been any big surprises, but federal cutbacks in financing are going to be challenging.
“It’s going to be a tight squeeze to get the best value out of every penny and dollar,” she explained.
In addition to adjusting to new methods of operation, Van Mark said the big project is going to be the next Farm Bill. Talks are already underway on it, but there is a lot to do.
Van Mark said she plans to visit each Farm Service Agency county office, beginning with Johnson County in January, and she plans to attend the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Wyoming Wheat Growers Association Thursday, Jan. 4, in Albin.
“I want to visit all districts, and on a regular basis, eventually,” Van Mark said.
Van Mark’s family arrived in Goshen County as homesteaders. Her mother Hannah’s Benzel family settled in the Table Mountain area, while her father Jack’s Van Mark family, chose land just south of Torrington on the high ground. The Van Mark family still owns and operates Van Mark Farms, Inc.