[Federal Register: February 3, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 23)]
[Page 5306]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



Farm Service Agency

National Drought Policy Commission

AGENCY:  Farm Service Agency, USDA.

ACTION:  Notice of Commission public hearing.


SUMMARY:  The National Drought Policy Commission (Commission) shall 
conduct a thorough study and submit a report to the President and 
Congress on national drought policy. This notice announces a public 
hearing to be held on February 17-18, 2000, in Billings, Montana, and 
seeks comments on issues that the Commission should address and 
recommendations that the Commission should consider as part of its 
report. The hearing is open to the public.

DATES:  The Commission will conduct a public hearing on February 17, 
2000, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and February 18, 2000, from 9:00 a.m. 
to 12:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Center, Auditorium, 415 N 30th Street, 
Billings, Montana. All times are Mountain Standard Time.
    Anyone wishing to make an oral presentation to the Commission at 
the public hearing, must contact the Executive Director, Leona Dittus, 
in writing (by letter, fax or internet) no later than COB, February 11, 
2000, in order to be included on the agenda. Presenters will be 
approved on a first-come, first-served basis. The request should 
identify the name and affiliation of the individual who will make the 
presentation and an outline of the issues to be addressed. Thirty-five 
copies of any written presentation material shall be given to the 
Executive Director by all presenters no later than the time of the 
presentation for distribution to the Commission and the interested 
public. Those wishing to testify, but who are unable to notify the 
Commission office by February 11, 2000, will be able to sign up as a 
presenter the day of the hearing, February 17, 2000, between 12:00 p.m. 
and 2:00 p.m. and February 18, 2000, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. 
All times are Mountain Standard Time. These presenters will testify on 
a first-come, first-served basis and comments will be limited based on 
the time available and the number of presenters. Written statements 
will be accepted at the public hearing, or may be mailed or faxed to 
the Commission office.
    Persons with disabilities who require accommodations to attend or 
participate in this public hearing should contact Leona Dittus, on 202-
720-3168, Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339, or Internet:, by COB February 11, 2000.

COMMENTS: The public is invited to respond and/or to submit additional 
comments, concerns, and issues for consideration by the Commission by 
March 29, 2000.

ADDRESSES:  Comments and statements should be sent to Leona Dittus, 
Executive Director, National Drought Policy Commission, U.S. Department 
of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 6701-S, STOP 0501, 
Washington, D.C. 20250-0501.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Leona Dittus (202) 720-3168; FAX 
(202) 720-9688; Internet:

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:  The purpose of the Commission is to provide 
advice and recommendations to the President and Congress on the 
creation of an integrated, coordinated Federal policy, designed to 
prepare for and respond to serious drought emergencies. Tasks for the 
Commission include developing recommendations that will (a) better 
integrate Federal laws and programs with ongoing State, local, and 
tribal programs, (b) improve public awareness of the need for drought 
mitigation, prevention, and response and (c) determine whether all 
Federal drought preparation and response programs should be 
consolidated under one existing Federal agency, and, if so, identify 
the agency.
    Below is a draft vision statement and set of principles to guide 
the Commission. Draft Vision Statement: Our vision is of a well-
informed, involved U. S. citizenry and its governments prepared for and 
capable of lessening the impacts of drought--consistently and timely--
in the new millennium.
    This vision is based on the following principles:
    Consideration of all affected entities and related issues, 
including legal, economic, geographic, climate, religious, and cultural 
differences; fairness and equity; and environmental concerns;
    Comprehensive, long-term strategies that emphasize drought planning 
and measures to reduce the impacts of drought;
    Federal role focused on appropriate coordination, technical 
assistance, education, and incentives while at all times respecting the 
rights and responsibilities of
    Federal, State, and local governments, and tribal sovereignty;
    Self-reliance and self-determination;
    Lessons learned from past drought experiences;
    Shared drought-related expertise and knowledge across international 
    In addition to your own views and thoughts regarding a national 
drought policy, as you review the draft vision and guiding principles, 
the Commission would be interested in your thoughts regarding the 
following questions:
    1. What is the best means for informing the public of Federal 
assistance for drought planning and mitigation?
    2. What type of information do you need for responding to the 
    3. What needs do you or your organization presently have with 
respect to addressing drought conditions?
    4. What do you see as the Federal role with respect to drought 
preparedness? Drought response? Should Federal emergency assistance be 
contingent on advance preparedness?
    5. Are there any ways you feel that the Federal Government could 
better coordinate with State, regional, tribal, and local governments 
in mitigating or responding to droughts?
    6. What lessons have you or your organization learned from past 
drought experiences that would be beneficial in the creation of a 
national drought policy?

    Signed at Washington, D.C., on January 31, 2000.
George Arredondo,
Acting Administrator, Farm Service Agency.
[FR Doc. 00-2445 Filed 1-1-00; 5:03 pm]