Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) and Congressman Jim Baird (R-IN 4th District) were among several lawmakers who introduced the Increased TSP Access Act of 2023 in the U.S. Senate and House. The legislation seeks to address the shortage of Technical Service Providers (TSPs) who help producers access USDA conservation programs through one-on-one assistance. This bill expands 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.
“Our nation’s farmers and ranchers play a critical role in conservation, so it is important that they have access to Technical Service Providers (TSPs) who help fill the gaps in technical assistance when it comes to implementing conservation programs. I’m proud to lead this legislation that will streamline the TSP certification process to support our producers and improve conservation outcomes,” said Sen. Braun
“In order for our farmers and ranchers to continue their vital conservation efforts, we need to make sure they have access to the best information and expertise available,” said Congressman Baird. “By introducing legislation that directs USDA to establish a streamlined certification process for Technical Service Provider (TSPs) who hold appropriate specialty certifications, we can ensure rapid response times for our producers and address TSP shortages just as the 2018 Farm Bill intended.”
“We congratulate Sen. Braun and Rep. Baird for introducing the Increased TSP Access Act, broadening the set of experts focused on conservation and a more sustainable food system—including many educated by the nation’s Land Grant Universities such as Purdue. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress and other public and private sector partners to solve food, agricultural and natural resource management challenges,” said Dr. Karen Plaut, Purdue University’s Executive Vice President for Research.
“It is especially important that the bill recognizes the unique role that co-ops play in American agriculture and the direct relationship they have with hundreds of thousands of farmers across the country. By expanding access to the expertise needed to address a range of on-farm resource concerns, this bill helps ensure the long-term sustainability and economic vitality of America’s farms and ranches,” said Chuck Conner, President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.
The legislation has also been endorsed by several Indiana-based ag businesses and associations, including Corteva Agriscience, the Indiana Corn Growers Association, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Agribusiness Council of Indiana, Indiana Pork Producers Association, Ceres Solutions and Purdue University.
Click here to read the text of the Senate bill.