WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has renewed the Agricultural Air Quality Task Force and named 29 individuals to serve as members.

Members will serve two-year terms that will end Sept. 30, 2008.

AAQTF advises the Secretary on agricultural air quality issues. Its mandate is to strengthen and coordinate USDA's air quality research efforts and identify cost-effective ways to help the agriculture industry improve air quality and meet federal and local air quality emissions requirements.

"Members of this task force are noted scientists and other experts in air quality as it pertains to agriculture," Johanns said. "The selected individuals represent diverse interests and geography and they will provide excellent guidance to help USDA deal with agricultural air quality issues effectively."

The 29 members on the task force represent 16 states. Sixteen members are newly appointed and 13 were reappointed. A full list of their names is online.

Experts in agriculture, industry, health and science comprise the task force. Representatives from various USDA agencies -- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Forest Service, Economic Research Service, Agricultural Research Service and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service -- also serve on this task force. The Chief of the NRCS serves as chair.

The 2006-2008 task force will tackle diverse air quality issues such as the reduction of criteria pollutants, carbon sequestration, ozone and ammonia emissions, greenhouse gases and the enhancement of opportunities for environmental trading markets for agriculture.

Additional information about the Agricultural Air Quality Task Force can be found online, or by contacting Diane Gelburd, NRCS Designated Federal Officer, at 202-720-2587 or at diane.gelburd@wdc.usda.gov.

SOURCE: USDA news release.