TAX $$ AT WORK, PART I . . . The Reagan administration makes no secret about its goal of getting the government out of agriculture, as the phrase goes, and stimulating Americans to do more for themselves.
But look who's turned to the Agriculture Department's Soil Conservation Service for some good old-fashioned, tax-subsidized advice from government bureaucrats: Vice President Bush.
Bush will get no direct financial aid, but the SCS has provided him with the technical guidance to clean up a small pond on his 17-acre estate at Kennebunkport, Maine. The pond was too salty to sustain the bass he wanted for fishing.
SCS experts made two trips to the pond to study it.
The administration, meanwhile, has put Congress in a low-grade swivet because of its proposed SCS budget cuts and its plan to concentrate the remaining federal aid in the areas of the country suffering most from soil erosion.
Earland Morrison, the district conservationist based in York County, Maine, said he got a call last year from a Bush aide who explained the pond problem and asked if the SCS could lend a hand. The SCS conducted two salinity tests on the pond and made recommendations for clearing it.
Under a cooperative agreement Bush signed in March with the York County Soil and Water Conservation District, a standard procedure used with all landowners seeking advice, the vice president has promised to follow the steps laid out by the SCS.
"Mr. Bush wanted it for fishing for his grandchildren," Morrison said. "Our plan will let Mother Nature clear up the pond. Then, he can stock it with minnows and large-mouth bass."
Morrison was quite taken by his most famous client. "He's real down to earth, just like everyone else as far as I could see. He thought a small landowner like himself wouldn't be eligible, but we told him anyone can join the conservation district. Me and my wife went over for coffee on the morning he signed the agreement. Real nice folks. . . . His wife took us through the house to show us how they had fixed it up."
Did Morrison take the opportunity to put in a plug for the SCS?
Darned right. "You know more about that budget than I do, but we talked up the SCS with Mr. Bush," he said. TAX $$ AT WORK, PART II . . . They're planning a big do, $24,000 worth, to mark the 40th anniversary of Smokey the Bear as the U.S. Forest Service's No. 1 firefighter.
The big guy went on duty as a fire ranger in 1944. So the forest service is going half-and-half with the Square Dancers of America of Altadena, Calif., on a $48,000 contract to produce a Smokey the Bear commemorative float for the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena next Jan. 1.
Woodsy Owl, Smokey's litter-fighting sidekick, will be along for the ride. GOLDEN YEARS . . . The annual financial disclosure statements at the USDA show the long and the short of high-level officials' retirement finances.
Daniel G. Amstutz, for example, the new undersecretary of agriculture for international affairs and commodity programs, reported that upon retirement last year as a partner in Goldman Sachs & Co. in New York his share was $3 million. He listed interests in real properties at more than $500,000, plus eligibility for about $1,700 a month in pension from the grain-trading Cargill Inc., a former employer.
"The country has been good to me; I've been awfully lucky," Amstutz said recently. "I welcomed this opportunity for public service. And I have no private agenda."
Meanwhile, John B. Crowell Jr., the assistant secretary for natural resources and environment, said that he has no promise of pension benefits or payments of any kind from any former employer. Crowell said that he has no promise of future reemployment by the Louisiana-Pacific Corp., for whom he was general counsel before coming to Washington in 1981, even though company officials have been quoted as saying he is "on loan" to the government.