[Federal Register: September 7, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 172)]
[Page 48576]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []


Farm Service Agency

National Drought Policy Commission

AGENCY: Farm Service Agency, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of Commission meeting and public hearing and request for comments.

SUMMARY: The National Drought Policy Act of 1998 established the National Drought Policy Commission (Commission). The Farm Service Agency (FSA) was identified to provide support to the Commission. The Commission shall conduct a thorough study and submit a report to the President and Congress on national drought policy. The first meeting of the Commission was held on July 22, 1999, and the first public hearing on July 23, 1999. Minutes of the first meeting and a list of Commission members can be found on the Commission's web site at drought. This notice announces the second meeting and public hearing and seeks comments on issues that the Commission should address and recommendations that the Commission should consider as part of its report. The second public hearing and meeting of the Commission will be held September 22. All meetings are open to the public; however, seating is limited and available on a first-come basis.

DATES: The Commission will conduct a public hearing on September 22, 1999, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon in the Williamsburg Room, Jamie L. Whitten Building, 12th and Jefferson Drive, SW, Washington, DC. The Commission will meet on September 22, 1999, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the same location. All times noted are Eastern Daylight Time. The Commission will discuss the current drought in the Northeast as it applies to national policy. They will also discuss the status of Commission activities, the operational definition of drought for the Commission, and other committee business.

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 12 noon, September 21, 1999, 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 September 21, 1999, will be able to sign up as a presenter the day of the hearing (September 22) between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. 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 meeting, or may be mailed or faxed to the Commission office.

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, DC 20250-0501.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Leona Dittus (202) 720-3168; FAX (202) 720-4293; internet Leona__Dittus@WDC.FSA.USDA.GOV.

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. The Commission will be chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture or his designee, and a Vice Chair shall be selected from among the members who are not Federal officers or employees. In the absence of the Chair, the Vice Chair will act in his stead. Administrative staff support essential to the execution of the Commission's responsibilities shall be provided by USDA, FSA. Commission members specifically cited in Public Law 105-199, include the Secretaries of Agriculture, Interior, Army, and Commerce, the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration; two persons nominated by the National Governors' Association, a person nominated by the National Association of Counties, and a person nominated by the Conference of Mayors. Those four members are to be appointed by the President. Six additional Commission members have been appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, in coordination with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of the Army. The six at-large members represent groups acutely affected by drought emergencies, such as the agricultural production community, the credit community, rural and urban water associations, Native Americans, and fishing and environmental interests. If special accommodations are required, please contact Leona Dittus, at the address specified above, by COB September 15, 1999.

Signed at Washington, DC, on September 1, 1999.
Parks Shackelford, Acting Administrator, Farm Service Agency.
[FR Doc. 99-23184 Filed 9-1-99; 2:01 pm]