EPA Sets Agenda for First-Ever Agricultural Advisory Committee

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has named the new members of the first-ever Federal Agricultural Advisory Committee.

 The committee will advise EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on environmental policy issues affecting farms, ranches, and rural communities. The first meeting of the committee was scheduled for March 13 and 14 in Washington, D.C.

"Agriculture is a crucial component of our society and of our efforts to be good stewards of the nation's land, air, and water," said Robert Varney, regional administrator of the agency's New England office. "The new agricultural advisory committee will play an important role advising EPA."

Initially, the committee will focus on:

• How EPA's policies and regulations on climate change and renewable energy will affect the agriculture community. The agricultural industry -- through the development of renewable energy sources -- can play a significant role in the nation's ability to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and its dependence on oil imports.

• An environmental strategy for managing waste from livestock operations that considers regulatory and voluntary approaches and provides tools for producers to attain superior environmental performance.

• Development of a constructive approach to advancing sustainable agriculture, protecting the environment, and addressing communication between environmental and agricultural interests.

Members were selected from a pool of more than 200 applicants generated from a request for nominations published Nov. 15 in the Federal Register. The new members represent large and small farmers, ranchers, and rural communities; rural suppliers, marketers, and processors; academics and researchers who study environmental issues impacting agriculture; and environmental and conservation groups.

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