Legislation introduced in the House and Senate Wednesday seeks to help address America’s shortage of Technical Service Providers at the Department of Agriculture.
Technical Service Providers help producers deploy and manage conservation programs through one-on-one assistance. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Terry Cosby recently projected his agency would need to hire between 3,000 and 4,000 employees to meet demand for technical assistance. Specifically, the bill would help build the workforce by cutting red tape, streamlining Technical Service Provider certification requirements, and ensuring they are paid the market rate.
Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat from Virginia, and Senator Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana, lead the effort.
Spanberger says, “This massive workforce issue is having real effects on the ground — and it’s slowing down the ability of producers to make smart management plans for their land.” Braun adds, “Our nation’s farmers and ranchers play a critical role in conservation, so it is important that they have access to Technical Service Providers.”