News Release
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Media Contact:
Steve Lyle, Office of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462, slyle@cdfa.ca.gov
SECRETARY KAWAMURA URGES PARTICIPATION AT USDA NATIONAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE LISTENING SESSIONS
CDFA
Release #05-007
Three sessions scheduled this month in California
SACRAMENTO- CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura is urging California farmers and ranchers to participate in upcoming listening sessions to be hosted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which is seeking comments on the national priorities used to implement the 2002 Farm Bill.

The final rule for NRCS’s flagship conservation cost-share program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), requires NRCS to periodically review and update the priorities utilizing input from the public and affected stakeholders to ensure the program continues to address the most important resource needs. Comments received will be considered as the NRCS plans for its 2006 program year and the 2007 Farm Bill.

“This is an excellent chance for California agriculture to speak directly to the NRCS,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “ I urge all those either participating or seeking to participate in EQIP to take advantage of the opportunity to help the agency shape its conservation policies in the coming years, which are more important than ever when it comes to responsible land stewardship.”

In California, listening sessions will be held from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the following locations:

· Perris, California, on March 11, 2005
In the Harrison Building at the Lake Perris Fairgrounds
18700 Lake Perris Drive, Perris, CA

· Anderson, California, on March 16, 2005
In the Western Shasta Resources Conservation District building
6270 Parallel road, Anderson, CA (former Sunset Plastic site)

· Fresno, California, on March 17, 2005
In the Agriculture Building at the Fresno County Fairgrounds,
1121 So. Chance Ave., Fresno, CA


The listening sessions are not exclusive to EQIP. The NRCS will also welcome comments on programs such as the Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program, the Grassland Reserve Program, the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program, and the Conservation Technical Assistance Program. The agency will be providing updates on all Farm Bill programs activities in California as part of the listening sessions.

EQIP’s national priorities, which NRCS uses to guide program funding, are:

1. Water Quality: Reductions of nonpoint source pollution, such as nutrients, sediments, pesticides, or excess salinity in impaired watersheds consistent with TMDLs where available, as well as the reduction of groundwater contamination and the conservation of ground and surface water resources;

2. Air Quality: Reduction of emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (Nox), volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors and depleters that contribute to air quality impairment violations on National Ambient Air Quality Standards;

3. Soil Erosion: Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land; and

4. Wildlife Habitat: Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation.

The sessions will invite responses to the following questions:

1) What emerging natural resource issues are not addressed by the current national EQIP priorities? Input should identify the nature of the concern and its extent or significance within California.

2) What modifications, if any, are needed to the four existing national priorities? Do these existing priorities continue to reflect national needs and concerns?

A compilation of inputs from all states, including California, will be presented at a national listening session tentatively scheduled for this spring.

Comments can be e-mailed to reina.o_beck@ca.usda.gov or sent by mail to Reina O’beck, Public Affairs Assistant, USDA-NRCS, 430 G Street  #4164, Davis, CA  95616.

-30-

Follow CDFA News on Twitter and Facebook
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814
916-654-0462, www.cdfa.ca.gov