The New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC) works to advance on-farm, comprehensive natural resources management through the support of local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs). The SWCC operates under the leadership of the Department to establish policy, foster partnerships, and support diverse SWCD programming that help farmers address environmental challenges and protect New York’s natural resources.
The SWCC and its partners work to benefit the public through:
- Water quality management
- Flood resiliency
- Wildlife, habitats, and open spaces
- Agricultural stewardship
- Climate resilient farming
- Environmental education
- Stormwater management
- Invasive species management
- Stream restoration
The SWCC is composed of voting and advisory members who represent a wide range of agricultural, environmental, and other interests. It is made up of five voting members appointed by the Governor of New York State. The current voting members are:
- Representative-At-Large for Farm Interests: Dale Stein, Chairman
Dale Stein of LeRoy, Genesee County was elected Chairman of the SWCC in February 2015. Dale has served as a Voting Member of the SWCC as the Representative-At-Large for Farm Interests since 2006. He is senior partner in Stein Farms LLC, a 1000 cow, 2500-acre dairy farm where he is in partnership with his brother Ray, son Nate, niece Tasha, and nephew Jerrod. He resides on the farm with his wife Lilly. Dale has served on many boards and committees, and is the past president of the Genesee County Farm Bureau, a member of the Northeast Dairy Producers Association Board of Directors, the Town Board of Leroy and its Agricultural Practices Board, the Genesee County Ag Protection Committee, the Genesee County Soil and Water AEM Advisory Committee, and others.
- Farm Bureau: Darin Hickling
Darin Hickling of Edmeston, Otsego County, serves as the New York Farm Bureau representative to the SWCC. Darin is President of Hickling’s Fish Farm, Inc., a family-owned and operated business that has been supplying fish for stocking and wholesale since 1986. The farm specializes in raising largemouth bass. Darin is Vice President of the Otsego County Farm Bureau, currently represents his district on the NY Farm Bureau Board of Directors, and is formerly the Vice Chairman of the Otsego County Soil and Water Conservation District.
- New York State Grange: David Brass
David Brass of Rodman, Jefferson County represents the New York State Grange. An active Grange member for over 40 years, David has served as Grange Master of Adams Center since 1999 and as Deputy State Master from 2004 to 2007. He became the Special Deputy Statewide in 2007. David and his wife, Geraldine, have farmed for many years, having owned and operated a 134-acre dairy farm before transitioning to a sheep and heifer farm. David has been on the Board of Directors for the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District since 2002. He has worked with the District for many years, installing numerous conservation practices on his farm to protect water quality and enhance natural resources. Over the years David has attended several agricultural and water quality related trainings and events. His extensive background in water quality includes holding a Class A License for bacteriological and chemical water testing for 14 years and serving as water treatment plant operator for the Village of Chaumont for over a decade.
- New York Association of Conservation Districts, Inc.: Vacant
- Representative-At-Large for Urban, Suburban, and Rural Non-Farm Interests: Erica Goodman
Erica Goodman of Brooklyn was appointed to the SWCC in 2016 as the Urban, Suburban, and Rural Non-Farm interests on the Committee. A native of Washington County currently residing in Brooklyn, Erica works at FoodCorps as the Associate Director of Corporate Partnerships. Erica has formerly worked for American Farmland Trust where she built an understanding of state and federal agricultural and conservation programs by supporting projects in farmland protection, water quality, and agricultural viability. Erica was also previously the proprietor of Origin Hops at Goodmanor Farm, which was operated on land originally a part of her family’s dairy farm, located in Washington County.
The Committee also includes nine advisory members:
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University
Principal Member: Kathryn J. Boor, Dean
Representative: Brian Rahm
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Principal Member: Dr. David C. Amberg
Representative: Dr. Stephen Shaw
Cornell Cooperative Extension
Principal Member: Christopher Watkins, Director
Representative: Beth Claypool
New York State Conservation District Employees' Association, Inc.
Principal Member: Chasity Miller, President
Representative: Dustin Lewis
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
Principal Member: Richard Ball, Commissioner
Representative: Jackie Czub
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Principal Member: Basil Seggos, Commissioner
Representative: Donald E. Tuxill, PE
New York State Department of Health
Principal Member: Howard A. Zucker, Commissioner
Representative: Paul Kaczmarczyk
New York State Department of State
Principal Member: Cesar A. Perales, Secretary of State
Representative: Stephanie Wojtowicz
US Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Principal Member: Blake Glover, State Conservationist
Representative: Dennis DeWeese
The goals of the SWCC are to:
- Establish policy to guide New York’s 58 County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and provide financial, technical, and educational support to assist them in developing and implementing programs.
- Play a critical role advancing nonpoint source pollution prevention efforts and ecosystem management services.
- Formalize consistency of environmental programs through cooperative agreements with local, state, and federal agencies and organizations.
- Lead the state’s agricultural pollution control and resiliency programs, including the administration of Environmental Protection Funds for the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Grants and the Climate Resilient Farming Program.
- Plan, coordinate, and set policy for New York’s Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) framework involving over one-third of New York’s 33,000 farms across all agricultural counties statewide.
- Assist the Department of Environmental Conservation with implementation of regulations for New York’s larger livestock farms and Phase II Stormwater Permits.
- Serve as an information and idea exchange between member agencies and groups and advise all agencies of government on matters relating to soil and water conservation.
The most recent meeting of the Soil and Water Conservation Committee was held on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. The meeting minutes are available below. Minutes from the June 15, 2021 meeting are also posted. If you are looking for other materials from these or other previous meetings, please contact us.