Soil and Water Conservation Peanut District – Charles Owens

Published 12:29 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

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The Suffolk News-Herald sent the same questions to Charles Owens and Gordon Iiams. Below is Owen’s response, Click here to read Iiams.

Name: Charles L. Owens

Age: 57

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Occupation: NATO Liaison Officer, Submarine Force Atlantic President/owner, CLO Enterprises, LLC

Prior elected offices held: Soil and Water Director, City of Suffolk – elected in 2019

Can you briefly talk about why you decided to run for the Peanut District?

I decided to seek re-election because I firmly believe that the work the Soil and Water Board does is critical to the prevention of soil erosion and sentiment damage.  Our soil is the lifeblood of our communities in Suffolk and we must continue to take every reasonable measure we can to conserve our resources.

What are your main goals if you were to be elected Soil and Water Conservation Director?

The Peanut District has robust partnerships with agency’s such as the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), USDA’s Farm Service Agency and the Department of Forestry (DOF). I intend to continue to develop these cross-organizational relationships to address the conservation needs of Suffolk through as many dynamic and effective measures as possible.

We, like all organizations, work within budgetary constraints and, sometimes, solutions to problems can be solved through combined efforts, common goals, shared community outreach opportunities and shared resources. Also, I will continue to push agricultural education and conservation awareness to the citizens of Suffolk through community outreach efforts and Farm Days.

In what ways will you continue to protect water quality?

Water quality protection is a two-fold approach. First is continuing to support efforts that study the water quality of the rivers, streams and runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.  Understanding what is getting into the water (and our ground water) will determine if the soil conservation practices our Board is recommending to our farmers and educating our citizens with is the correct and effective means of conservation. This is a constant evaluation process.

Second, is continuing to use every measure available to the Board to understand the best soil and water management practices and then getting that information to our farmers and citizens. This, too, is a constant and evolving process.  Practices that are considered to be effective today, may not be as effective in 15 years and we need to stay on top of the most recent, proven farming techniques that result in higher soil quality, better crop yields and better food available for everyone.

What solutions do you have for providing agriculture incentives?

The Board has a program through which farmers and landowners are provided cost-share and technical assistance for installing Best Management Practices. This ongoing program serves to educate farmers across all available practices and then provide incentives based on the specific project or practice.  Whenever any incentive is available to our farmers, we endeavor to spread the word as quickly as we possibly can to get these incentives into the hands of those who desire to capitalize on the programs. Not every program fits every need, but we strive to educate and make resources available whenever we can as quickly as we can.

What are ways you will provide opportunities for farmers of color?

The most effective way to ensure everyone has access to incentives and opportunities is through community outreach and agricultural education initiatives. Our programs and cost-share initiatives are available to anyone. As a representative of the City of Suffolk if there are issues with access to cost-share  incentives, tax credit opportunities or any other Soil and Water project, please reach out to me and I will work with anyone to find a solution.