Norm Berg was our link to the beginnings of agricultural conservation in the United States. His far-reaching career began in 1943 at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Soil Conservation Service (SCS)—a relatively new agency formed in response to the Dust Bowl. Until his death on March 18, 2008, Berg remained a committed conservationist, serving as senior advisor for American Farmland Trust (AFT) and as the Washington, D.C., representative for the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS).
Berg worked for the first chief of SCS, Hugh Hammond Bennett, and then steadily rose through the ranks. He became associate administrator in 1969 and served as Chief from 1979 until 1982. Upon retirement from public service, Berg became active with AFT and SWCS, both national, nonprofit conservation organizations. But Norm Berg's professional achievements did more than track an emerging movement—his contributions and leadership charted the movement's course.
The Norm Berg Collection assembles documents written by or about Berg as well as key laws and reports that represent milestones in agricultural conservation. At the collection's core are nearly 200 speeches and articles written by Berg from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s, when he was in leadership positions at the SCS. These papers demonstrate Berg's tireless commitment to farm and ranch land protection and his role in steering the agency and its partners toward a broader understanding of agricultural conservation. In addition, the collection includes examples of testimony delivered by Berg, federal laws, biographical sketches and, lastly, tributes prepared by esteemed colleagues and friends.
The collection was assembled by AFT with help from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, formerly SCS) and is housed within AFT's Farmland Information Center (FIC) Web site (www.farmlandinfo.org). The FIC is a fitting home for Berg's works because the federal law that authorizes the FIC—the federal Farmland Protection Policy Act—was one outcome of the National Agricultural Lands Study launched by USDA during Berg's term as SCS chief.
Our hope is that this collection will make Norm Berg's wisdom available to future farmland protection advocates and that it will be a fitting tribute to his invaluable and greatly respected leadership.
Norm Berg dedicated this collection to his family.
This project was made possible with support from the NRCS, SWCS, Anne Arundel Soil Conservation District and Norm Berg's friends and colleagues.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Dedication of the Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center, May 15, 2009
"Norm's relentless work ethic, his pride in his community and his tireless dedication to the conservation of natural resources continue to make him a shining example of what is best about America...We've got to make sure that his papers, his speeches, his thoughts are preserved and that young people have access to that information."