The National Corn Growers Association encourages its grower members to attend the listening sessions on cooperative conservation that President George W. Bush's administration has planned this summer.



NCGA Production and Stewardship Committee Chairman Bill Chase said these are important sessions for farmers and producers to be involved in.



"The process of developing better and more efficient conservation policies and programs, as well as opening the communication between land users and the government, is vital to growers," he said. "Corn growers are mindful of the need for environmental stewardship and providing a safe and dependable food supply. NCGA encourages corn growers to be involved in these open discussions."



Chase also noted it is important for growers to go these types of open forums in order to be part of the process of making public policy.



"Programs and policy are made by those individuals who show up to discussions," he said. "If we want to improve conservation policies, growers need to be involved."



The listening sessions will give citizens an opportunity to exchange ideas on incentives, partnership programs and regulations that can improve results and promote cooperative conservation and environmental partnerships.



U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Jim Connaughton are expected to appear at some of the sessions. At least four more sessions will be added later.



The focus on the meetings will be on issues, programs and policies mentioned at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation. Topics will include:


  • How can the federal government enhance wildlife habitat, species protection and other conservation outcomes through regulatory and voluntary conservation programs?


  • How can the federal government enhance cooperation among federal agencies and with states, tribes and local communities in the application of environmental protection and conservation laws?


  • How can the federal government work with states, tribes and other public- and private-sector partners to improve science used in environmental protection and conservation?


  • How can the federal government work cooperatively with businesses and landowners to protect the environment and promote conservation?


  • How can the federal government better respect the interests of people with ownership in land, water and other natural resources?



  • The 2006 session dates and locations are:


  • Aug. 9, Washington State University-Spokane, Spokane, Wash.

  • Aug. 14, Public Health and Human Services Building, Helena, Mont.

  • Aug. 14, Colkep Center, Roanoke College, Roanoke, Va.

  • Aug. 21, Ohio State University Agricultural Administration Building, Columbus, Ohio

  • Aug. 22, Deschutes County Fairgrounds Expo Center, Redmond, Ore.

  • Aug. 29, Runge Conservation Nature Center, Jefferson City, Mo.

  • Aug. 30, Cherokee Strip Conference Center, Enid, Okla.

  • Sept. 13, Shasta County Board of Supervisors Chamber, Redding, Calif.



  • For more information on the session and to register for the events, visit http://cooperativeconservation.gov.



    SOURCE: NCGA news release.