The U.S. Department of Agriculture will hold public meetings July 9-10 in Washington, D.C., to discuss issues affecting beginning farmers and ranchers.

The Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers meetings will offer the public an opportunity to hear the committee's deliberations and to comment on issues affecting these farmers and ranchers. Both meetings, which will be held at the Sofitel Lafayette Square Hotel, 806 15th St., NW, will begin at 8 a.m., Eastern Daylight Time.

Agenda items will include:

• Discussion of the Farm Bill provisions;

• USDA's response to the recommendations made in the September 2007 Government Accountability Office report entitled: "Beginning Farmers: Additional Steps Needed to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of USDA Assistance;"

• A presentation of a national project focused on farmland access, tenure and succession funded by USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service;

• Presentations by several Advisory Committee members on the following topics: the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers; innovative opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers in Nebraska; and new immigrant farming initiatives; and

• Status of previous committee recommendations and drafting new recommendations.

Although attendance is open to the public, space is limited.

Public comments will be accepted on July 9 beginning at 1:15 p.m. The opportunity to comment will be limited to five minutes each and will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis.

Requests to make an oral statement must be in writing. They must include: the speaker's name, affiliation, and an outline of the topic. Requests can be sent via letter, fax or e-mail, no later than July 3, 2008, to:

Mark Falcone, Designated Federal Official for the Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, Farm Service Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., STOP 0522, Washington, D.C. 20250-0522, (phone) 202-720-1632, (fax) 202-690-1117 (fax), e-mail: mark.falcone@wdc.usda.gov People with disabilities who need special accommodations to attend or participate should contact Falcone by July 3, 2008.

The Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers advises the Secretary of Agriculture on ways to encourage federal and state programs to provide joint financing to beginning farmers and ranchers as well as methods of maximizing new opportunities created through federal and state programs.

Section 5 of the Agricultural Credit Improvement Act of 1992 required the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the committee.

The committee meets at least once a year. Meetings are open to the public.

For more information about the advisory committee, please visit: http://www.fsa.usda.gov