William J. Richards

William J. Richards, of Circieville, built a successful, diversified family farming operation by investing primarily in management and brain power rather than labor and machinery.

Richards was a pioneer in crop residue management and started producing crops without plowing in 1957. Richards founded Ohio Top Farmers organization, a purchasing and marketing cooperative. This organization is considered a model for the agriculture industry. He helped to initiate the highly successful National Alliance for Crop Residue Management, a "first in bringing together industry, government and the farm media for a common purpose. He also initiated a similar alliance to deal with wetlands issues.

In 1991, President George Bush appointed Richards to Chief, Soil and Conservation Service (SCS), U.S. Department of Agriculture. Richards guided the agency in taking positive approaches to farm legislation involving soil erosion control, wetlands protection and water management. He helped build a bridge between agriculture and environmental interests.