History

The PA Agricultural Ombudsman Program was created in 2000 as a pilot program in southeastern Pennsylvania.  Lancaster,  Chester, and Berks County Conservation Districts, PennAg Industries Association,  and the PA State Conservation Commission gave oversight of the development and expansion of the program.  Within 2 years, the pilot program became a permanent program, the position became a Lancaster County Conservation District employee and primary oversight shifted to the Lancaster District and the State Conservation Commission.   The Ombudsman reached out to many Conservation Districts in PA to offer assistance.  As requests for assistance expanded statewide, the oversight committee decided a second Ombudsman should be hired.  in 2005, the Blair County Conservation District hired an Ombudsman to cover western PA.

The Ombudsman positions are employed by the Lancaster and Blair County Conservation Districts.  Funding for the positions is allocated from the PA Department of Agriculture through the Conservation District Law.

The eastern and western Ombudsmen maintain individual activities and efforts, but utilize each other strengths as needed, and have always collaborated on efforts that benefit farmers, municipalities, Conservation Districts and other partnering conservation and environmental agencies.

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