Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, will continue a series of 2012 farm bill listening sessions Aug. 29 when she visits the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

“California needs to have a strong voice in the national food policy discussion,” Ross said in a news release. “I strongly encourage everyone’s participation in this process.”

The current farm bill, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, expires next year. It provides federal funds for school meals, food stamps, research, invasive species prevention and management and initiatives that support food production and conservation.

The California listening sessions are designed to gather input from growers, ranchers and the public regarding the state’s priorities for the federal farm bill, according to the release.

The first of the sessions was in Sacramento Aug. 22. Two more sessions are scheduled to follow the Fresno gathering: Sept. 8 at the San Diego County Farm Bureau, Escondido, and Sept. 9 at the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s office, Salinas.