The Forum's co-hosts - USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), American Farmland Trust and Farm Foundation NFP - and the Forum's Blue Ribbon Panel - thank you for joining us to consider 21st-Century approaches to conservation and the issues facing policies and programs that will shape the future of the agricultural landscape and rural regions.

The Forum's goal is to provide policymakers with information and insights to strengthen delivery of services and the efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs aimed at improving environmental quality and rural development. Sessions have been designed to provide multiple perspectives on resource issues, program needs and policy approaches. We hope you will actively engage in Forum discussions, sharing your knowledge and
experience to help achieve this goal.

The Forum is part of an assessment process, required by Congress under the Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act (RCA), of how well USDA conservation programs are serving the long-term needs of the nation. Reauthorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, the RCA places new emphasis on the importance of assessing conservation needs, evaluating the effects of conservation practices and analyzing alternative approaches to conservation programs. NRCS is the lead agency on the assessment, collaborating with nine other USDA
agencies. The outcomes of Forum discussions today and tomorrow will contribute to USDA's program report to Congress for the RCA assessment.

Thank you for joining us here in the nation's capital and for your commitment to protecting America's working lands, keeping them healthy and planning for their future.
(View Full forum program in .PDF format)