The Environmental Protection Agency announced they are forming a twenty-five person committee to help them achieve their national strategy for agriculture that was presented last year. The strategy looks at agriculture as a producer of economic and environmental solutions that is engaged with government through collaboration, innovation and voluntary programs. The Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Committee will advise the EPA on national environmental policy from an agricultural point of view.
"Few occupations have such an immediate and vested interest in America's natural resources as our farmers," says Jon Scholl, counselor to EPA Administrator for agricultural policy. "Those of us in government concerned about protecting the environment should listen to and learn from the hands-on experience of our agricultural community and give them a serious place at our policy table. That's what EPA plans to do."
EPA will soon ask for nominations through the Federal Register for twenty-five committee members to represent the full breadth and diversity of American agriculture. Scholl says they want a committee with people who will strongly represent their viewpoints but also work closely together to bring consensus recommendations to the EPA.
"We expect this committee to have a lot of influence on development of policy as it relates to agriculture," says Scholl. "We think it has been an oversight, quite frankly, that we haven't had a group of this sort in the past. As we look the future we see agriculture playing a very important role in a lot of issues that the agency deals with. It's important for us to take our level of communication and cooperation to a higher level."
Selecting the members of the committee will be a challenge, but Scholl says first and foremost they want people that are actively engaged in production agriculture. While others in agricultural leadership positions will be involved, EPA wants at least half of the committee members to be active producers.
The notice in the Federal Register will be published in early November, nominations will be accepted through December, appointments will be made in January and the committee should hold its first meeting by the first of March.