USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack last week announced the renewal of USDA's Agricultural Air Quality Task Force and the selection of its members for the 2013-2015 term.
Vilsack said the board will implement science-based climate solutions and new technologies while working closely with farmers, ranchers, and land owners and federal partners to monitor air quality.
The task force is composed of representatives from industry, agriculture, academia, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and other agricultural and environmental stakeholders.
"We can only make good decisions on complex and emerging challenges like air quality with expert guidance from a cross-section of interests," Vilsack said in recognizing the board members. "Our goal is to minimize the public impact of air pollution that is associated with agricultural practices while—at the same time—preserving farming as a way of life."
Specific duties of the task force include:
1) Advising the agriculture secretary on air quality and its relationship to agriculture;
2) Reviewing research on agricultural air quality supported by federal agencies;
3) Promoting federal, state, local and tribal coordination in establishing agricultural air quality policy to avoid duplication of efforts; and
4) Ensuring that air quality conservation practices supported by USDA are based on peer reviewed research and are economically feasible for agricultural producers.
The Agricultural Air Quality Task Force also works to identify cost-effective ways the agriculture industry can improve air quality.
The task force was formed in 1996 at the direction of Congress to address agricultural air quality issues. Chaired by Jason Weller, chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, this is the eighth task force since the first was assembled in 1997.
The newly-appointed group is scheduled to meet later this fall. Click here for a list of members.