USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California will host a State Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) meeting on March 4, 2009, to continue a public dialogue on priorities and procedures appropriate for implementing conservation programs in the Golden State in 2009. The meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m., at the California Farm Bureau conference room at 2300 River Plaza Drive, Sacramento.

California received $30 million in Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds for 2009 followed by an additional $10.9 million specifically for air quality conservation measures on farms and ranches. The farm bill (Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008) provides for a forum of concerned agencies and organizations to provide guidance to the state conservationist, Ed Burton, on priorities and administrative procedures relative to the distribution of the funds.

"California is facing a host of natural resource challenges. Our farmers and ranchers can be a key part of the solution, and NRCS technical and financial assistance can certainly help. We invite the public to voice their opinions in how we administer and distribute these resources."

Topics that will be discussed at the March 4 meeting include the following:

• Use of funds to assist farmers with limited financial resources.

• Use of funds for the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI). (To view an Adobe PDF overview fact sheet, download the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) At a Glance fact sheet.)

• Use of funds for initiatives such as those for dairy water quality, air quality and wildlife habitat.

• Use of Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) funds.

• Practices and incentive opportunities for use of air quality funds.

The meeting will begin with a brief overview of the farm bill conservation programs under consideration. NRCS will then open the meeting to discussion on priorities and procedures for administering the programs.

The 2008 farm bill included and increased funding and/or acreage allocations for a lengthy list of conservation programs. These include the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP); the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP); the Conservation Security Program — now the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP); the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP); the Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP); the Farmland Protection Program (FPP) and the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI), among others.

See more information on farm bill conservation programs.