WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier this summer, House Committee on Agriculture Members Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Ann Kuster (D-NH) introduced H.R. 5451, a bill that would exempt farmers from the unnecessary reporting requirements for voluntary conservation programs.
Currently, farmers and landowners participating in voluntary conservation programs through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are required to maintain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and register each year for the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM). This practice is burdensome, time consuming, and costly.
Leo LaGrande, a California rice farmer and chairman of the USA Rice Farmers Conservation Committee, shared his views on the process, “It’s a practice that’s good in theory, to provide oversight of federal spending, but in reality the SAM and DUNS requirements disincentivize voluntary conservation.”
“The registration systems for SAM and DUNS are complex and were designed to hold military defense contractors with billion dollar government contracts accountable for the funds they receive, not to police a farmer with a small cost-share contract with NRCS,” said LaGrande. “Not only does the registration process take up valuable time for growers every year, but after registering, their contact information is put in a public database and they’re flooded with solicitations via phone, email, and mail.”
LaGrande concluded, “USA Rice is encouraged by Congressman Crawford’s legislation and supports any efforts to improve the locally-led, voluntary, and incentive-based approach to private land conservation. Exempting us from these regulations will help to keep rice farmers at the forefront as stewards of the land.”
A companion bill to H.R. 5451 is expected to be introduced later this session in the Senate.