USDA and the Memphis, Tenn.-based crop alliance signed a memorandum of understanding at a ceremony held today at USDA headquarters in Washington. Bruce Knight, chief, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Ray Young, president, National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC), signed the MOU.

“NAICC’s crop consultants are respected as experts in U.S. crop production,” Knight said. “Their crop and farm management recommendations are based on rigorous certification standards. NRCS is pleased to partner with NAICC in providing quality technical assistance that will help producers apply or install conservation practices.”

The five-year agreement allows NAICC to recommend its certified professional crop consultants to USDA for certification to provide technical services. These independent crop consultants must perform work that meets USDA standards and specifications for effective crop and farm management.

The 2002 farm bill expanded the availability of technical assistance to private landowners by encouraging the use of third parties—called technical service providers or TSPs—to assist USDA in delivering conservation technical assistance to farmers, ranchers and others.

The certified specialists will be placed on a national, Web-based registry called TechReg that is available to landowners, farmers, ranchers and others seeking conservation technical assistance. The registry now has 730 certified TSPs and 720 pending applications.

Additional information on technical service provider assistance is available at http://techreg.usda.gov. Information on the 2002 farm bill can be found at www.usda.gov/farmbill.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com