Sen. Mike Braun, Sen. Michael Bennet and Sen. Roger Marshall, all members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, introduced legislation to address the shortage of Technical Service Providers (TSPs) who help producers access USDA conservation programs through one-on-one assistance. Rep. Jim Baird (IN-04) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
The Increased TSP Access Act would address the TSP shortage by expanding on the framework first envisioned in the 2018 Farm Bill.
- Non-Federal Certifying Entities: The bill directs USDA to establish a process to approve non-Federal certifying entities. The bill ensures that USDA’s process will allow agricultural retailers, conservation organizations, cooperatives, professional societies, and service providers to become certifying entities. It also puts clear deadlines on USDA to ensure that the agency is responsive in administering the program.
- Streamlined Certification: The bill directs USDA to establish a streamlined certification process for TSPs who hold appropriate specialty certifications (including certified crop advisors). This guarantees that applicants with other certifications aren’t burdened with duplicative training, but are still trained in the competencies needed to serve as a TSP.
- Parity in Compensation: The bill ensures that TSPs—who are often paid using conservation program dollars—are paid the fair market rate for their services.
Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association supports this legislation. Said Executive Director Liz Jackson, “Access to technical assistance is critical for landowners and leads to greater success when implementing conservation practices. Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association recognizes Senator Braun’s leadership to improve the TSP process and make it easier for landowners, providers, and the NRCS.”