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PSU to Host USDA Public Forum on Conservation Policy Issues
Friday, March 18, 2011 - 9:30am to Friday, March 18, 2011 - 4:30pm

PSU to Host USDA Public Forum on Conservation Policy Issues

Date:   March 18, 2011
Time:   9:30am - 4:30pm
Place:  Room 327/8/9, Smith Memorial Student Union, 1825 SW Broadway, Portland, OR.
Cost:   Free and open to the public, but registration is requested.
To register, please click here.

Portland State University will host one of six regional meetings seeking public input on natural resource policy issues. This Western regional meeting is open to anyone with an interest in natural resource conservation policy issues. The event is sponsored by the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at PSU.

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.

Panelists confirmed to provide perspectives on water security at the Portland meeting are Joe Whitworth of The Freshwater Trust; Marc Thalacker of Three Sisters Irrigation District; and Dick Moss of Provost & Pritchard. Discussing climate variability will be Dan Keppen of the Family Farm Alliance, and David Ervin of Portland State University. Landscape integrity issues will be the topic for Jennifer Allen of Portland State University. Also invited to discuss landscape integrity issues are Michael Powelson of The Nature Conservancy, and Jim Stone, a Montana farmer.

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 Services (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, the Animal and 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 thought leaders in soil and water conservation and agricultural landscapes has been appointed to contribute to the regional and national meetings. Members are: Roger Allbee, former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture; Varel Bailey, Bailey Farms, Inc., Anita, Iowa; Craig Cox, Environmental Working Group; Otto Doering, Purdue University; P.J. Haynie, Haynie Farms, Hague, Va., and National Black Grower's Council; Teresa Lasseter, Moultrie, Ga.; A.G. Kawamura, former California Secretary of Agriculture; Pat O'Toole, Ladder Ranch, Wyoming and Family Farm Alliance; Ross Racine, Intertribal Agriculture Council; Charles Stenholm, Olsson, Frank, Weeda Terman Bode Matz PC; 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.

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:
Robert Richardson, Portland State University, rbr@pdx.edu
Daniel Mullarkey, daniel.mullarkey@wdc.usda.gov
Patty Lawrence, patty.lawrence@wdc.usda.gov
Sheldon Jones, sheldon@farmfoundation.org
Mary Thompson, mary@farmfoundation.org