Release No. 0486.02
Alisa Harrison (202) 720-4623
Mary Cressel (202) 690-0547
USDA SEEKS TECHNICAL SERVICE PROVIDERS TO HELP DELIVER CONSERVATION
> WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2002-The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published
the interim final rules for certifying third parties to provide conservation
technical services for certain conservation programs.
> The 2002 Farm Bill expanded the availability of technical assistance to
producers by encouraging the use of third parties-called technical service
providers-to assist USDA in delivering conservation technical services. The
interim final rule for technical service provider assistance was published
in the Nov. 21 Federal Register.
> "The technical service provider process is a key provision of the Farm
Bill," said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. "It allows us to provide
more resources for technical assistance from the private and nonprofit
sectors and state and local government to help farmers and ranchers reach
their conservation goals."
> The interim final rule sets forth the process the Natural Resources
Conservation Service will follow for administering this provision of the
Farm Bill and seeks public comments. In addition to establishing the
certification process, the interim rule also establishes criteria for
evaluating all potential providers of technical assistance; distinguishes
between certification of an individual working under his or her own auspices
and that of an organization; and sets forth conditions and procedures for
NRCS to use to assure that certified technical service providers deliver
high quality technical services to producers and to decertify those who fail
to meet the quality standards.
> NRCS state conservationists will certify technical service providers
within their jurisdiction to provide technical assistance on behalf of USDA,
including conservation planning and the design, layout, installation and
checkout of approved conservation practices. Once certified, their work
must meet NRCS standards and specifications, program requirements, and
relevant laws and regulations.
> "This unique process will allow other groups and individuals to help us do
conservation planning and implementation work for producers," said NRCS
Chief Bruce I. Knight. "Program participants may still use NRCS for
technical assistance or may select a certified technical service provider.
This will allow much needed assistance to carry out these new farm bill
> Additional information on technical service providers is on the Web at
> The 2002 Farm Bill authorized an unprecedented amount of funding for
conservation on private working land -- $13 billion over six years.
Detailed information on conservation programs authorized in the 2002 Farm
Bill and a list of published rules and public notices are available at
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