July 27, 2006

Crapo: Conservation Program Success Depends On Technical Assistance

Chairman of Ag Subcommittee reviews use of technical service providers

Washington, DC â?? The success of federal farm conservation programs in enhancing the environment may depend in part on the availability of technical assistance for producers, according to Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. Crapo is chairing a Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation and Rural Revitalization hearing today on the use of third-party technical service providers in carrying out agricultural conservation programs.â??The Farm Bill is one of the most important environmental laws we have and it provides a significant investment in agricultural conservation programs,â?? said Crapo. â??These programs provide incentives for conservation and result in environmental benefits, but knowing how to achieve these benefits can require expertise that spans a wide range of scientific disciplines.â??Crapo says the hearing is aimed at ensuring producers have the technical assistance they need to better address issues related to water, soil, air quality, endangered species, crop nutrients and other areas. To that end, representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and several agricultural conservation organizations will address the subcommittee during the hearing. They include Sara Braasch, West Regional Assistant Chief for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); James Chapin, Director of the Western Region for the Association of Consulting Foresters; Gene Schmidt, a Member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Conservation Districts; David Goad, Deputy Director of the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission; and Doug Wolf, a member of the Board of Directors for the National Pork Producers Council.While the 2002 Farm Bill substantially increased conservation program funding, staffing levels at the NRCS and other agencies may not have been sufficient to provide all the technical assistance required to deliver the level of funding. The hearing, beginning at 10:00 a.m. in Room 328-A of the Senate Russell Office Building, will examine the use of technical service providers (TSPs) to increase technical assistance and how those providers are certified and funded, plus the methodology used in the program.