"USDA is holding the listening sessions to give the public ample opportunity to voice their opinions about the new program," Veneman said. "The public input will be very important as we develop the final regulations for program implementation."

The CSP proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 2, 2004. Comments are due by March 2, 2004. The 10 national listening sessions will be held:

Jan. 13 Tempe, Arizona
Jan. 13 Roanoke, Virginia
Jan. 21 Kerrville, Texas
Jan. 27 Spokane, Washington
Feb. 10 Lansing, Michigan
Feb. 11 Ft. Pierce, Florida
Feb. 11 Des Moines, Iowa
Feb. 11 Augusta, Maine
Feb. 11 Greenwood, Mississippi
Feb. 26 Madison, Wisconsin

Authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill, CSP is a new voluntary conservation program that supports ongoing conservation stewardship of agricultural working lands and enhances the condition of America's natural resources.

The proposed rule and detailed information on the national listening sessions are on the NRCS Web site at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov.