Folks have asked us to share your thoughts on what could make the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service better for you. The reason? The new Farm Bill is being written right now and it will include changes to the NRCS.
Those changes will dictate funding for NRCS services that provide farmers and ranchers with financial support for critical projects, and for valuable technical support. The On Pasture Community is being asked, “What do you need to be successful?” The folks building the Farm Bill have some ideas, and we may not like all of them. So now’s our chance to tell them. They are listening right now.
Here are some things we are watching:
• There’s a proposal for farmers and ranchers to be required to register with the government for SAM and DUNS.
SAM stands for “System for Award Management,” and DUNS is the “DATA Universal Numbering System.” We know from personal experience that registering for SAM is difficult and very time consuming and you have to renew every year. We’re concerned that this will place an undue burden on farmers and ranchers and might even mean that many will stop working with NRCS and other agencies that help them a lot.
• Boots-on-the-ground are being limited.
What we have seen and heard is that NRCS is plagued by not enough local staff and too much paperwork. The budget for on-site technical assistance is a fraction of what it was and it’s getting cut further. The success of the relationship between farmers and ranchers and NRCS is having that one knowledgeable person to work with, walking the land side by side with the farmers and ranchers, and helping figure out the best route to success for the land and the producers.
We’ve all seen USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service do really great work, and as with all organizations, there are times that things don’t go so well. We want to hear your stories of working with the NRCS, good or bad, along with your constructive criticism of what went well and what could be done better. We want to hear what you need and what would help you be more successful and productive.
We’ll bundle your stories and get them to the right people. Your voice can work wonders to make sure the services you need are there for you and for all farmers and ranchers.
Kathy and Rachel