Thursday, July 12, 2007

NRCS vs FSA II--Moving the Money

Found the provision of the House farm bill, on page 101 of the conservation title.

2 BY FARM SERVICE AGENCY.—Section 1244 of the Food
3 Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3844) is amended by in4
serting after subsection (f), as added by subsection (b),
5 the following new subsection:
7 ‘‘(1) ROLE.—The Secretary shall assign to the
8 Farm Service Agency the administrative duties asso9
ciated with delivering all programs under this title,
10 including administrative responsibility for making
11 such benefits available to participants in such pro12

I've left out the key bit--the next paragraph allows the Secretary to move the money to support this. That is the motivating bit--jobs and money.

I'm hardly an unbiased observer, but returning responsibility to FSA makes sense to me. In the ideal world, something like former Secretary Glickman's proposal to merge the administrative tails of the agencies serving farmers would be adopted. But that was killed late in the last century. As I understand, the question is basically who writes the checks. FSA and its predecessors have always prided themselves on being good check writers; NRCS and its predecessor have always prided themselves on their science and their education work. In 2002 the conservation lobby was strong enough to get NRCS assigned the checkwriting role for these programs. They seem to have had their problems (Harshaw's law--you never do things right the first time). In their defense, it's particularly difficult for them because their IT operations were even more decentralized than FSA's.

Anyhow FSA's lobby, notably its "union" (National Association of State and County Office Employees--NASCOE, but don't try its website using Firefox, use IE), has urged the return of these responsibilities to FSA and apparently has enough support on the Hill to make it into the draft. Here's its position paper.

I fully expect this fight to continue as long as I live, or the separate agencies do.

No comments: