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New Englander Included in First-Ever EPA Agricultural Advisory Committee

Release Date: 02/28/2008
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, (617) 918-1027

(Boston, Mass. - Feb. 28, 2008) - Continuing efforts to strengthen relations with the agriculture community, EPA has named the new members of the first-ever Federal Agricultural Advisory Committee (FACA) - including a New England representative from the town of Methuen, Massachusetts.

The committee is an important part of EPA’s ongoing effort to strengthen relations with the agriculture community. It will advise EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on environmental policy issues impacting farms, ranches, and rural communities, and will operate under the rules of the FACA. The first meeting of the committee will take place March 13 and 14, 2008 at The Madison Hotel 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 EPA's New England office. "The new agricultural advisory committee will play an important role advising EPA."

The New England representative to the advisory committee, Dr. Richard Bonanno of Methuen, is a specialty crop producer who owns and operates a fresh market vegetable and greenhouse called Pleasant Valley Gardens. He also serves as a Senior Extension Specialist at the University of Massachusetts Extension with responsibilities for vegetable and small fruit weed management recommendations.

"As the sole representative from Region 1, I look forward to the opportunity to represent and discuss the many diverse agricultural issues within New England as well as the issues of specialty crop growers everywhere,” said Dr. Richard Bonanno. "I applaud the efforts of the Administrator to improve communications between EPA and the agricultural, forest, and rural communities. It is important that EPA weigh the needs of both producers and the environment, to protect the environment while still encouraging and sustaining domestic production of food and fiber."

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 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.

The committee is being developed as part of a comprehensive National Agriculture Strategy that began in May of 2006. That strategy seeks to engage agriculture in cooperative, collaborative, and innovative ways, in addition to the traditional regulatory programs the agency administers.

More information:

Agriculture in New England ( http://epa.gov/region1/agriculture/index.html )

National EPA Agriculture Web site, including information on the advisory committee and EPA's Agricultural Strategy (http://www.epa.gov/agriculture)

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