House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., has set a series of 2012 Farm Bill field hearings to take place throughout March and April.

The first one is scheduled for upstate New York with other stops slated for Illinois, Arkansas and Kansas. The hearings will give House Ag Committee members the opportunity to hear firsthand how U.S. farm policy is working for farmers and ranchers in advance of writing legislation.

The field hearings are the next step in the farm bill development. Last June, Lucas began the effort when the House Agriculture Committee held 11 audit hearings on agriculture programs to look for ways to improve programs for farmers, increase efficiency, and reduce spending. The information gained from the audits combined with perspective from the field will serve as a reference for committee members.

"Field hearings represent one of the best parts of writing the farm bill because it gives us a chance to see the countryside and visit with folks who are directly impacted by our policy decisions in Washington,” Lucas says. “Agricultural policy affects every American; ensuring that our farmers and ranchers have the necessary tools they need to continue to produce an affordable and stable food supply is as important to our country as national defense. It's critical to all of us that we get it right.”

The full schedule presented here. For those who cannot attend the hearings, the House Agriculture Committee plans to provide a live webcast at this link.

Friday, March 9, 2012 – 9:00 a.m. EST
North Country Community College, Sparks Athletic Complex
23 Santanoni Ave
Saranac Lake, NY 12983

Friday, March 23, 2012 – 9:00 a.m. CDT
Carl Sandburg College, Student Center Building B
2400 Tom L. Wilson Blvd.
Galesburg, IL 61401

Friday, March 30, 2012 – 9:00 a.m. CDT
Riceland Hall, Fowler Center
Arkansas State University
201 Olympic Drive
State University, AR 72467

Friday, April 20, 2012 – 9:00 a.m. CDT
Magouirk Conference Center
4100 W. Comanche
Dodge City, KS 67801

Source: U.S. House Ag Committee