Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will conduct the sixth in a nationwide farm bill listening tour when he hosts a Farm Bill Forum in Fresno, Calif., on Aug. 12. The public is invited to attend the forums to offer comments on farm bill policy.

"I am learning a great deal from the people participating in the Farm Bill Forums," said Johanns. "These forums present a tremendous opportunity for the citizens we serve to have a voice in the development of a new farm bill."

The secretary announced the following Farm Bill Forum:

— Aug. 12, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (PDT), Fresno County Fairgrounds, Fresno, Calif.

The secretary has now conducted forums in Tennessee and North Dakota. The following upcoming Farm Bill Forums were previously announced:

— Aug. 3, 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. (CDT), Farm Fest, Redwood County, Minn.

— Aug. 4, 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. (CDT), Wisconsin State Fair, West Allis, Wis.

— Aug. 11, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (CDT), Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, Iowa

When participating in the forums, the public is invited to respond to one or more of the following six questions. The format of the forum will also allow an open comment period for general farm bill comments.

1. How should farm policy address any unintended consequences and ensure that such consequences do not discourage new farmers and the next generation of farmers from entering production agriculture?

2. How should farm policy be designed to maximize U.S. competitiveness and our country's ability to effectively compete in global markets? 3. How should farm policy be designed to effectively and fairly distribute assistance to producers?

4. How can farm policy best achieve conservation and environmental goals?

5. How can federal rural and farm programs provide effective assistance in rural areas?

6. How should agricultural product development, marketing and research-related issues be addressed in the next farm bill?

The public is also welcome to submit their comments via the USDA Farm Bill Forums Web site at www.usda.gov/farmbill. Throughout 2005, Johanns and other senior USDA officials will participate in the Farm Bill Forums that will be held across the country. The dates, locations and times of the forums will continue to be announced as they are scheduled and posted on the USDA Web site.