On July 1, 2010, Steve Dlugosz, a Certified Crop Adviser and Lead Agronomist, Harvestland Cooperative presented testimony on behalf of the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) Program and the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research in Washington, D.C. The committee was reviewing the administration and delivery of USDA conservation programs.
As Dlugosz said in his prepared remarks, the relationship between the CCA Technical Service Provider (TSP) and the local county level USDA NRCS staff is very critical to the successful delivery of conservation practices on the ground.
A positive and mutually supportive relationship yields a higher adoption rate of practices on the farm which ultimately should lead to improved environmental conditions in that local area. NRCS should capitalize on the existing MOU they have with ASA to fully implement the TSP program and fully engage the CCAs working in the private sector. CCAs have a long standing and trusted business relationship with the farmer. CCAs know and understand plant and soil-based production agriculture.
Dlugosz said that NRCS should utilize CCAs to expand their delivery of technical assistance and the adoption rate of conservation practices. At the same time, by requiring professional certification for all staff that deliver or evaluate technical assistance, NRCS will increase their internal capabilities and expertise. This is not a new concept for NRCS since they already require it of other non-agronomy or soil science related staff. There is great potential to expand conservation through this partnership approach and ASA and the ICCA Program are ready and willing to partner further with USDA to do so.
For a full transcript of Dlugosz testimony see Witness Opening Statement.