USDA Regional Meeting Set for SUNY Cobleskill

March 4, 2011

One of six regional meetings seeking public input on natural resource policy issues will take place on Thursday, Mar.10, on the campus of SUNY Cobleskill. This Northeast regional meeting, which will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in Bouck Hall, 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 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 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 landscape integrity issues at the Cobleskill meeting are Chris Coffin of American Farmland Trust and Alex Giffin of NRCS Maine. Discussing climate variability will be Nathan Rudgers of Farm Credit Services, Amanda St. Pierre of Dairy Farmers Working Together and David Wolfe of Cornell University. Panelists on water security are yet to be named.


There is no fee to attend the regional meetings but registration is requested. To register, go to 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 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 for April 7 - 8, 2011, at the Marriott Metro Center in Washington, D.C. The first forum was March 3 in Rock Island, Ill. The other regional forums are as follows:


March 10, Lory Student Center, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, Colo.

March 15, Polytechnic Campus of Arizona State University, Mesa, Ariz.

March 18, Portland State University, Portland, Ore.

March 22, 4-H Center, Columbiana, Ala.


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


For more information contact:

Daniel Mullarkey,

Patty Lawrence,

Sheldon Jones,

Mary Thompson,