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News Release

USDA Seeks Public Input on Conservation Policy Issues

Auburn, Alabama,  March 11, 2011

One of six regional meetings seeking public input on natural resource policy issues will take place Tuesday, March 22, at the Alabama 4-H Center, Columbia, Alabama.  This Southern regional meeting, which will be 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is open to anyone with an interest in natural resource conservation policy issues.

As required by Congress in the Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act (RCA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture is to gather public input on natural resource conservation policy issues.  The overall goal of this effort is to improve delivery of conservation services to landowners and communities, as well as to expand participation in conservation programs.

At each regional forum, discussion will focus on three broad topic areas: water security, climate variability and landscape integrity.  A panel of invited speakers will present comments, followed by open discussion with forum participants. 

There is no fee to attend the regional meetings but registration is requested.  To register, go to www.farmfoundation.org and follow the link from the item on the home page.

The purpose of the RCA, which provides broad strategic assessment and planning authority for USDA, is to ensure that USDA programs for the conservation of soil, water and related resources are responsive to the long-term needs of the nation.  The overall goal is to improve delivery of conservation services to landowners and communities, and to expand participation in conservation programs.  USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the lead agency working on the RCA and is collaborating with nine other USDA agencies: Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, Forest Service, Risk Management Agency, National Institute for Food and Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Input is sought on specific natural resource conservation issues and economic and public policy issues related to agriculture and rural America, including: 1) natural resource status and trends; 2) emerging challenges; 3) emerging opportunities; and 4) long-term impacts on natural resource conditions and food, fuel, and fiber production.

A panel of nationally-recognized leaders in soil and water conservation and agricultural landscapes has been appointed to contribute to the regional and national meetings: 

  • Roger Allbee, former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture

  • Varel Bailey, Bailey Farms, Inc.

  • Anita, IA; Craig Cox, Environmental Working Group

  • Otto Doering III, Purdue University

  • P.J. Haynie, Haynie Farms, Hague, VA, and National Black Grower's Council

  • Teresa Lasseter; A.G. Kawamura, former California Secretary of Agriculture

  • Pat O'Toole, Ladder Ranch, WY, and Family Farm Alliance

  • Ross Racine, Intertribal Agriculture Council, MT

  • Charles Stenholm and Sara Wyant, Agri-Pulse Communications

Information from the six regional forums will feed into a national agricultural landscapes conference planned April 7-8, 2011, at the Marriott Metro Center, Washington, D.C.  The first three forums were March 3 in Rock Island, Ill, and March 10 in Cobleskill, N.Y., and Fort Collins, Colo.  The other regional forums will be:

  • March 15, Polytechnic Campus, Arizona State University, Mesa, Ariz., and

  • March 18, Portland State University, Portland, Ore.

Details on each of the forums are available on the Farm Foundation Web site, www.farmfoundation.org.  This project is organized by USDA in collaboration with Farm Foundation, NFP and American Farmland Trust.

For more information contact: