The U.S. Department of Agriculture makes implementation decisions about key farm bill conservation programs with strong consideration of public input shared in State Technical Committees (STC). State Technical Committees are organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service in each state. They serve in an advisory capacity and do not have implementation or enforcement authority.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) led the successful 1996 Farm Bill campaign to allow NGOs and farmers to participate in STCs and the 2008 Farm Bill campaign to allow NGOs and farmers to participate in the Local Work Groups that implement conservation programs at the county and multi-county level.
NSAC has established a State Technical Committee (STC) Network as a forum for sharing information and common approaches between member organizations and grassroots organizations who participate in their State Technical Committee. NSAC’s STC Network has been instrumental in previous years to lead multi-state efforts to secure EQIP and CSP ranking criteria, eligible practices, and payment rates favorable to sustainable agriculture systems. The STC Network also helped secure technical assistance and funding for farmers to transition to organic farming systems.
In the coming year, NSAC will work with its member organizations to prepare materials and conduct workshops to help more farmers, ranchers, and conservationists get involved with their NRCS State Technical Committee and Local Work Groups.
NSAC submitted comments to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in response to their State Technical Committee interim rule on January 26, 2009.