Continuing efforts to strengthen relations with the agriculture community, EPA today announced the establishment of the first-ever Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee. The committee is being formed under the guidelines of the National Strategy for Agriculture, and it will advise the administrator on environmental policy issues impacting farms, ranches and rural communities and operate under the rules of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).
"We at EPA appreciate that agriculture isn't just the producer of the food, agriculture is the producer of environmental and economic solutions," said administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "This committee provides an opportunity to improve dialogue between EPA and the farming community. By sitting down at the same table, together we can do what's good for agriculture and good for our environment."
The committee will meet approximately twice yearly and is intended to consist of approximately 25 members representing: (1) large and small farmers, ranchers and rural communities; (2) rural suppliers, marketers and processors; (3) academics and researchers who study environmental issues impacting agriculture; (4) tribal agricultural groups; and (5) environmental and conservation groups. EPA's request for member nominations will be posted in the Federal Register. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and other federal agencies will also be invited to nominate members.
Initially, EPA will ask the committee to focus on the following three issues:
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 dependence on oil imports, as well as be a source and repository of greenhouse gas emissions.
An environmental strategy for 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 and protection of the environment, addressing communication between environmental and agricultural interests and urban encroachment in rural areas.
EPA press release