Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced the selection of Arlen Lancaster as Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

"Arlen Lancaster's dedication, leadership and experience has well prepared him to serve in this new leadership role on our USDA team," says Johanns. "He has a passion for conservation and I look forward to working with Arlen in this new capacity. I'm very confident that our nation's farmers and ranchers will have a strong advocate in him for improving the quality of our natural resources and conserving our land."

Lancaster succeeds Bruce Knight at NRCS, who was recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate as under secretary of agriculture for marketing and regulatory programs. Lancaster has served as deputy assistant secretary of Congressional Relations at USDA since April 2005. Prior to his service at USDA, Lancaster served in various senior staff positions in Congress, having worked since 1999 for Senator Mike Crapo as a senior policy advisor. As the staff director for the Senate Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation, and Rural Revitalization since 2001, he played a key role in crafting the conservation title of the 2002 Farm Bill. He also worked for Senator Robert Bennett from 1998 to 1999.

As Chief of NRCS, Lancaster will lead the primary federal agency that works directly with private landowners to help them conserve, maintain and improve their natural resources. NRCS emphasizes voluntary, science-based conservation; technical assistance; partnerships; incentive-based programs and cooperative problem solving at the community level.

Lancaster is a graduate of the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science and an avid fly fisherman and outdoor recreationist. He and his wife Staci live in Alexandria, Virginia.