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USDA Agricultural Landscapes Forums

The National Agricultural Landscapes Forum was April 7-8, 2011 at the Marriott Metro Center, Washington, D.C.  This Forum and the regional meetings preceding it, were a collaboration of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Foundation, NFP, and American Farmland Trust.  A webcast of the national forum is available.  Click here for the final summary of the National Forum.

As required by Congress in the Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act (RCA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking public input on natural resource conservation policy issues.  The process began with regional meetings which took place at six locations across the country over the last four weeks. Regional meeting discussions focused on three broad topic areas: water security, climate variability and landscape integrity. Information gathered at these regional meetings was used to build the program for the April 7-8 meeting. 

The RCA, which provides broad strategic assessment and planning authority for USDA, includes provisions for ensuring that USDA soil, water and natural resources conservation programs are responsive to the long-term needs of the nation. NRCS is the lead agency working on the RCA assessment, 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.

A panel of nationally-recognized thought leaders in soil and water conservation and agricultural landscapes was 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.

The overall goal of the endeavor is to improve delivery of conservation services to landowners and communities, and expand participation in conservation programs. 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.

Regional meetings
The regional round tables were opportunities for the public to discuss major policy themes and points of consensus and divergence.  At each regional Round Table, a panel of invited speakers offered perspectives on the three respective topics, after which the floor was opened for discussion. 
Midwest: March 3, 2011, Rock Island, Ill.
 Rock Island Meeting Agenda

Mountains/Plains: March 10, 2011, Fort Collins, Colo.
 Fort Collins meeting agenda


Northeast: March 10, 2011, Cobleskill, N.Y. 
 Cobleskill meeting agenda

Southwest: March 15, 2011, Mesa, Ariz.
 Mesa Meeting Agenda 

West:  March 18, 2011, Portland, Ore.
 Portland Meeting Agenda

South: March 22, Columbiana, Ala.
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 olumbiana meeting agenda 



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