Committee will provide insight on pollution, more
By DAVE WILKINS
Five people from the West are among new members of a committee that will advise the EPA on issues related to agriculture and rural communities.
The new appointees represent a wide range of interests including a major food processor, California specialty crop growers, an Idaho Indian tribe, a conservation district in Western Washington and a county in Montana.
The EPA's newly named Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Committee includes:
* Steven S. Balling, director of agricultural and analytical services for Del Monte Foods in Walnut Creek, Calif.
* Lori A. Berger, executive director of the California Specialty Crops Council, Tulare, Calif.
* George J. Boggs, executive director, Whatcom Conservation District, Lynden, Wash.
* Bill Snapp, agricultural resources manager for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Fort Hall, Idaho.
* Peggy S. Beltrone, Cascade County Commissioner, Great Falls, Mont.
The five are among 29 new committee appointees who will serve 2010-12.
Committee members will provide insight on topics such as non-point source water pollution and agricultural air quality issues.
Boggs said he's looking forward to providing some input as well as learning from other members of the committee.
Whatcom County is one of the Washington state's leading dairy counties. Local producers have been participating in a state nutrient management program since 1998 and have earned kudos for helping with a basin-wide project to reduce fecal coliform levels in the lower Nooksack River Basin.
Whatcom County farmers installed fences to exclude animals from creeks and began applying manure only when fields could absorb it. Landowners also installed hedgerows along watercourses and more than 400 miles of filter strips to protect against overspray and runoff of manure.
It's an example of how farmers can be proactive, rather than waiting for the "hammer" of regulation to force them into action, Boggs said.
It's the kind of advice he plans to share with the advisory committee and the EPA.
"We can solve these things working together," he said. "Regulatory responses are sometimes counter productive."
Boggs may also have some input regarding renewable energy.
Some Whatcom County dairies with anaerobic digesters are starting to explore the possibility of selling compressed methane gas as a transportation fuel, he said.
EPA regulations can affect the viability of such projects, he said.
Newly appointed members of an independent committee will advise the Environmental Protection Agency on a wide range of issues affecting agriculture and rural communities.