July 2, 2010
On Thursday, July 1, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research held a hearing to review the administration and delivery of conservation programs.
Subcommittee Chairman Tim Holden (D-PA) emphasized the importance of accessible and efficient technical assistance for proper land management and implementation of conservation practices.
According to the testimony from Steve Robinson on behalf of the National Association of Conservation Districts, lack of technical assistance is the foremost barrier to adoption of conservation practices and enrollment in federal conservation programs.
Currently, administration and delivery of conservation programming is split between the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). NRCS administers the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Wetlands Reserve Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, and several other programs, while both agencies jointly administer the Grasslands Reserve Program and the Conservation Reserve Program.
Testimony from Mr. Dave White, NRCS Chief, Mr. Jon Coppess, FSA Administrator and seven producers/ technical service providers from around the country all echoed the need for greater efficiency in coordinating efforts between the two USDA agencies and clearer delineation of roles.
Ranking member Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) sounded alarm to the fact that the number of technical service providers has fallen by 50% since 2004. Congressman Moran (R-KA) raised concerns about the backlog of applicants for EQIP contracts.
Both White and Coppess addressed these concerns by explaining their agencies’ plans to modernize their IT systems to improve administrative efficiency and minimize paperwork for producers while also working get more technical service providers in the fields.
Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment