The 2002 Farm Bill expanded the availability of financial and technical assistance (TA) funds for the implementation of conservation programs and required the Secretary of Agriculture to provide technical assistance for conservation programs authorized under Title XII of the Food Security Act to a producer eligible for that assistance "directly . . . or at the option of the producer, through a payment . . . to the producer for an approved third party, if available."
The private Technical Service Provider (TSP) is responsible to the producer. It is recommended that the TSP and producer enter into a contract so that deliverables, pricing, and other terms are clearly understood.
The TSP and producer should review and understand the Statement of Work (SOW) for each conservation practice in the contract. The SOWs state the minimum deliverables to be provided by the TSP so that the producer can receive U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assistance. The SOWs are available in the electronic Field Office Technical Guide (eFOTG) or at your local USDA Service Center.
For Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contracts, TSP services will only be authorized for obligation and payment after a contract is approved. Services provided prior to contract approval are not reimbursable.
TSP TA funding can only be contracted where there is an associated financial assistance USDA-program-contracted practice AND the TA is planned to be provided during the fiscal year (FY) of the obligation.
Payments are not authorized for the following:
Reimbursement for TA provided by a TSP who is not certified in the NRCS TSP Registry, TechReg, at the time of delivery of the service
TA charges not traditionally provided by the NRCS--for example, soil or manure sampling, scouting, preparing the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) permit application, general consulting, etc.
Services provided prior to TA dollars being obligated to the contract
The TSP will provide the necessary documentation, invoice, and written certification to the producer. (The SOW in the eFOTG for each practice indicates the documentation to be provided by the TSP.) The TSP shall certify in writing that the design of each practice meets the NRCS conservation practice standard (including all criteria, codes, and other standards referenced). To perform this certification, the TSP may sign Form NRCS-CPA-1245 or furnish a written document (usually on business letterhead).
The TSP shall prepare a summary invoice for the design of a system that can include several conservation practices. For example, the system (such as a manure and wastewater handling and storage system) may consist of one or more of the following practices: Waste Storage Facility (313) Pond Sealing or Lining (521A, 521B, 521C, or 521D) Manure Transfer (634) Solid/Liquid Waste Separation Facility (632) Diversion (362) to divert clean or polluted water Fence (382) Critical Area Planting (342) Wastewater Treatment Strip (635)
Another type of summary invoice may involve several fields or plans of Nutrient Management (590) or Pest Management (595) on the same USDA contract.
The invoice should only include design functions such as soils investigations, field surveys, calculations, drafting, and writing construction specifications. Functions such as general assistance to the client regarding the KDHE consent order may not be a design function. The request for payment of the design, along with the supporting invoice and supporting documents, should be submitted to the producer promptly after the design function is completed. Payment for the design can be made to the producer before construction (installation) begins.
When the TSP completes installation (lay out) services, the TSP prepares a certification that installation services were provided according to the applicable NRCS standards and specifications. The TSP also prepares a summary invoice of the installation services and lay out functions and submits the certification and invoice to the producer.
When the TSP has completed the check out services, the TSP prepares a construction certification (that the completed project meets the applicable NRCS standards and specifications for each practice), final quantities, and any other items listed in the SOW for each of the practices. The TSP shall also prepare a summary invoice of all the check out activities and submit the certification, final quantities, etc., to the producer.
The producer receives payment from NRCS based on the USDA contract provisions up to the National Technical Service Provider Payment Rates (NTSPPR).
Producers have no recourse to NRCS for costs incurred that are in excess of the USDA-contracted amounts.