Four Californians and one Arizonan have been appointed by Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman to the recently re-established Agricultural Air Quality Task Force for 2003-2004.

Maricopa County, Ariz., cotton producers Kevin Rogers and Californians Mark P. Boese, San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District Manuel F. Cunha Jr., Nisei Farmers League Robert G. Flocchini, University of California-Davis and Roger Isom, California Cotton Ginners and Growers will serve on the task force that acts as an advisory committee to the secretary on issues related to agricultural air.

Air quality issues continue to have a significant impact on agriculture in both Arizona and California's central valley.

The task force is chaired by the chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“Conservation of our natural resources, including air quality, is important to our farmers and ranchers,” Veneman said. “I am pleased these individuals have agreed to serve on this task force.”

The Agricultural Air Quality Task Force charter is renewed every two years to address agricultural air quality issues. Rogers and Isom were on the last panel.

Representatives from USDA's Forest Service, Agricultural Research Service and Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service also will participate on the task force.

The first meeting of this task force will be May 20-21 in Washington, D.C.

Others from the Sun Belt on the task force are: Tommy L. Coleman, Alabama A&M University Phillip J. Wakelyn, National Cotton Council of America; from North Carolina Viney P. Aneja, North Carolina State University, Garth W. Boyd, Smithfield Foods, Inc Joseph Rudek, Environmental Defense and Sally L. Shaver, US Environmental Protection Agency; Annette H. Sharp, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality; from Texas Robert V. Avant Jr., Texas Food and Fibers Commission, Calvin B. Parnell Jr., Texas A&M University, John M. Sweeten Jr., Texas A&M University and from West Virginia Timothy Wade Maupin, Cargill Turkey Products.