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TASCOE Convention 2016 ~ Boy, Oh Boy!

TASCOE Convention 2016 is rapidly approaching!

 

TASCOE Convention 2016 will be held at the Park Vista Hotel in Gatlinburg, TN. Wow!

Hotels Gatlinburg TN | The Park Vista - Photo Gallery | Hotels in Gatlinburg Tennessee 2016-03-04 11-37-23The Park Vista
705 Cherokee Orchard Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Make Your Reservations Now!

September 15th, – 18th, 2016
TASCOE’s Group rate is $89.00 per room plus 12.75% applicable taxes.
Online booking at www.parkvista.com use code: COE
or call 1-800-421-7275 use code: COE

If you have any questions concerning booking your reservation, please contact Donnell Ford.

For hotel overflow,  www.glenstonelodge.com

Just let them know you are with the TASCOE group and you will get the $72.00 rate.


Boy, Oh Boy is there a great line up of guests & activities this year! 

Just look at this Guest line up!

  • Wes Daniels, NASCOE President
  • David Curtis, SEA NASCOE Executive
  • Gene Davidson, State Executive Director, TN-FSA
  • Ty Samples, Administrative Officer, TN-FSA
  • Patty Taylor, Farm Programs Chief, TN-FSA
  • Q & A with TN FSA State Office Staff
  • Dillards Retirement Planning

Here is the TASCOE 2016 program.

Have you Registered? Here is the 2016 TASCOE REGISTRATION Form.


Thursday, Sept. 15th: Golf Tournament!

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Hooks & Pins II at the Bent Creek Golf Course, in Gatlinburg, TN.

If you are plannning on playing or thinking about it, please contact Will Barnes. Send a text to 931-644-4660 or email to wobarnesjr@gmail.com

 

 

 

 


small-in-memoryEach year at the NASCOE Convention, a memorial presentation is made to honor the service of those who have passed away within the last year. This year, TASCOE would like to put together a presentation to remember our Tennessee FSA employees who have passed away. Please help us honor the deceased members, including COC members, from your county by submitting their information to Andrea Stafford by September 1st. Since this is our first year for this, please feel free to submit any names you wish without regard to date of death. Please include as much information as possible (i.e. Name, County, Position, number of years served, etc.) and as many pictures as you would like.

Please email all information to andrea.stafford@tn.usda.gov


ORCA COOLER SCHOLARSHIP RAFFLE!

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Why is all of this important??

Excerpt from 1968 Directory;

“Since the beginning of TASCOE in 1959, many accomplishments and benefits have been derived by every ASCS employee. These things were brought about by TASCOE-NASCOE-ASCS-Congressmen and Senators “Getting to know” each other and the every day problems and work of ASCS people. With these accomplishments, we believe, we are able to be of better service to the farmers of this country.”

TASCOE & NASCOE continues to look out for not only FSA staff, but for farmers and producers as well by working diligently with Government leadership. A quick visit to the NASCOE Website proves this teamwork is making a difference continuously.  A perfect example of this is shown in the recent Progress Report from NASCOE President, Wes Daniels and NASCOE Vice President, Dennis Ray:

Progress Report on NASCOE Issues, July 27th, 2016
Wes Daniels

I spent the week of July 10 in WDC at the NACS/NASE and NADD Conventions. I very much appreciated the invitation and enjoyed the convention and opportunity to see how they conduct their association’s business. Having the convention in WDC was expensive but rewarding. I was able to meet with management and work on current NASCOE issues and concerns.

I met with HRD on two negotiation items. The PT Working Group that will visit rewriting PT’s Position Description is being put together and Jenae Prescott, PT from Idaho, Megan Kennedy, PT from Georgia, and Mark VanHoose, CED and Past NASCOE President, will represent NASCOE on this national task force. A committee is being put together to form the questionnaire that will replace KSA’s on the CO hiring process. NASCOE will have representation on this group as well.

I also met on IT issues. Reports on the efficiencies of CARS show even with issues two days of the last week of certification that the software performed significantly better than last year. FSA CIO has stayed on top of the issues and with a team of folks has visited many county offices to see how CARS and ACRSI are working. They have seen the issues we face and are working to resolve them. I am sure you have seen emails from Darren Ash, FSA CIO, making everyone aware of our IT issues and that they are working on them and then again when things are back up running. NASCOE very much appreciates Darren’s communications with all of us.

I was able to meet with several different people about our concerns with ACRSI. As you should know by now, NASCOE formed an ACRSI Task Force about a year and a half ago. Our Administrator has allowed NASCOE to participate in the weekly and biweekly ACRSI conference calls. Our participation has helped make some significant changes in the ACRSI program. I was able to share some of the “pain points” our task force has put together with various people during my visits to the South Building. We made plans for Darren Ash, FSA CIO, and Brad Pfaff, DAFP, to meet with the NASCOE ACRSI Task Force during the National Convention. NASCOE knows that crop reporting is vital to our future and very much wants ACRSI to work. The implementation has had some bumps in the road but has been successful. We will continue to work toward making it more efficient and incorporating geospatial components. We have also been concerned about policy integrity in ACRSI and have met with management about our concerns in this area and are seeing improvement.

During several meetings with DAFO we discussed Bridges to Opportunity (BTO), Receipt for Service, staffing (both permanent and temporary), budget issues, COC authorities, shared management concerns (including compensation for CED’s with two or more grade twelve offices), PT upgrades, training, IT issues, workload tool, and many other concerns. DAFO allowed NASCOE to have representation on the IT Steering Committee and Kristal Rater was appointed this task. DAFO also allowed NASCOE to participate in the Managerial Cost Accounting group and Dennis Ray, NASCOE’s Vice President, served in this capacity. You should be seeing reports on these soon.

I also met with Radha Sekar, FSA CFO, about budget and, in particular, staffing. Basically it looks like we will operate under a CR to start the year and permanent staffing will remain pretty much unchanged from 2016. Temporary staffing is another subject; with the farm bill implementation funds pretty much exhausted, there are not a lot of funds available for temporaries. Management is looking at some creative ways to resolve this. We will keep you updated.

It appears that our directives are being cleaned up and will soon be in updated handbooks and notices. This has been an ongoing process and, while progress is being made, we are a long ways from completion. Space requirements and leasing were discussed and changes are continuing to be made in these areas.

We continue to push to have the COC authority and delegations restored to the 2-CRP handbook, as well as clarify the process of approving a CED’s leave in WebTA. Conversations on both of these issues seem to be heading in the right direction.

To wrap up, I was encouraged and certainly appreciated management’s willingness to meet with us and their receptiveness of the items and topics we discussed. We feel that these discussions and the relationships that we are continuing to build tremendously help improve our abilities to serve American Agriculture and improve our working environment.

Managerial Cost Accounting Work Group
Dennis Ray

National Notice AO-1651 was issued to solicit recommendations from the field on ways to improve the Managerial Cost Accounting (MCA) system. Some of the components of the MCA system include the Activity Reporting System (ARS), a cost model, FSA staffing model development, operating costs, program data, salary and benefits costs, unit counts or program performance metrics and complexity factors. Notice AO-1655 announced the formation of a MCA working group tasked with reviewing the suggested changes from the field and to make recommendations to the Executive Leadership Council. While not an official part of the working group, the employee associations were invited to attend and participate fully in reviewing the suggestions and preparing the recommendations.

The majority of the time was spent in three areas. The first was activity reporting. The group stressed the importance of properly reporting our time in WebTA. Part of the review of ARS dealt with the number of programs and activities. While there were suggestions from the field to both add activities and to reduce activities, the general consensus was that reducing the number of activities would increase the accuracy of time reporting. Another topic regarding activity reporting focused on being able to report the time and activity properly when helping another county, whether that was within your own state or serving another state on a jump team. If the MCA system is going to be used as a workload and staffing tool, the working group determined the time and unit counts had to be reported in the proper county.

The second major area was in the metric used for the workload counts. The working group reviewed the program areas and what items were being used for those counts. For example, are payments made the best count for ARC/PLC-Serv & Maint or would approved contracts be a better count? If payments made were used, then a county that didn’t trigger a payment wouldn’t get credit for ARC/PLC-Serv & Maint even though they had done the same preparation work as a county that did trigger a payment. I won’t try to remember all of the specific recommendations for the metrics but I will tell you that all of the program areas were reviewed. If the recommendations are adopted, it has the potential to be the closest thing to our old work measurement system that we have had since we quit using it several years ago.

The third area was complexity factors. This dealt with some of the inherent differences across the country. Are ARC/PLC contracts with generic bases more complex than farms without them? Are shared management operations more complex than stand-alone counties? How do you account for complex 902 business plans as opposed to 902’s for individuals? These and many other factors were discussed within the group and were the basis of the recommendations.

NASCOE Convention 2016 Is In The Books

The NASCOE Convention was held this past week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was a very informative and fun event for all that attended. Below are a some of the highlights of the Convention.

Congrats to our own Donny Green for receiving theDistinguished Service to Community Award!

Donny Green receiving the Distinguished Service to Community Award.

Donny Green receiving the Distinguished Service to Community Award.

More photos of the Convention:

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SEA Rally Is Underway!

The South East Area Rally in Savannah, Georgia is currently underway!

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Here are some of the photos coming in…

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TASCOE at SEA Rally

TASCOE at SEA Rally

TASCOE Convention 2016. Park Vista!

TASCOE Convention 2016 will be held at the Park Vista Hotel in Gatlinburg, TN. Wow!

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Hotels Gatlinburg TN | The Park Vista - Photo Gallery | Hotels in Gatlinburg Tennessee 2016-03-04 11-37-23images

The Park Vista
705 Cherokee Orchard Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Make Your Reservations Now!

September 15th, – 18th, 2016

TASCOE’s Group rate is $89.00 per room plus 12.75% applicable taxes.

Online booking at www.parkvista.com  use code:  COE
or call 1-800-421-7275  use code: COE

 

If you have any questions concerning booking your reservation, please contact Donnell Ford.

More Convention Details coming soon!

 

NASCOE Meets with FSA Management in WDC

NASCOE President, Wes Daniels and Vice President, Dennis Ray meet with Val Dolcini and other management leaders in Washington, DC on February 23rd, 2016. 12768141_989791794419823_6193230968111985206_o

NASCOE leadership was fortunate to be able to meet with management during our trip to Washington, DC on February 23-24, 2016. We had meaningful conversations with FSA Administrator Val Dolcini, Associate Administrator Chris Beyerhelm, Deputy Administrator of Field Operations Greg Diephouse and his team, Deputy Administrator of Farm Programs Brad Pfaff and his team, Thomas Mulhern and Barbara Boyd of HRD and Tonye Gross who leads the ACRSI Initiative.

Administrator Dolcini and Deputy Administrator Diephouse

NASCOE thanked Administrator Dolcini for inviting the leaders of the employee associations to attend recent national training sessions. NASCOE was represented at the recent CRP Training and the national Farm Loan Training. This allowed the leadership teams from all of the associations an opportunity to discuss common issues and to collaborate on solving those issues.

The Administrator indicated he would have good representation from the National Office at the 2016 National NASCOE Convention in Cedar Rapids, IA. This is a tremendous opportunity for field office employees to meet and interact with FSA’s upper management. In addition to the National Convention, FSA management will be attending the Area rallies and we encourage you to attend if at all possible.

Administrator Dolcini notified NASCOE that he would be holding a Town Hall meeting again this year. The meeting will be streamed live or available by teleconference and focus on workforce engagement. The meeting will also be recorded for those unable to participate on the date of the meeting. Be looking for additional information announcing the official date and time.

The Administrator gave a quick update on the Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI). FSA has been working with RMA and Approved Insurance Providers (AIP’s) at various stages of the development of ACRSI. There are still some technology glitches that need to be addressed. The expanded deployment of ACRSI will include 13 crops which will encompass over 90% of the total reported acreages. They are reviewing the Analysis of Alternatives (AOA) to determine best business practices. The SED’s received an update on ACRSI recently and Administrator Dolcini offered to share that with NASCOE.

Administrator Dolcini and Deputy Administrator of Farm Programs Brad Pfaff will be attending the Commodity Classic to demonstrate FSAfarm+. Producers should find this a useful tool, however Level 2 eAuth privileges are needed for access.

Associate Administrator Chris Beyerhelm

NASCOE appreciates the extra effort made by Associate Administrator Beyerhelm to meet. An unexpected meeting conflicted with our originally scheduled time however Chris made time in his schedule for us. Chris gave an update on his initiative to review, consolidate and update directives. The goals of the initiative are to update handbooks and to limit actual policy to notices and handbooks. He is updated every two weeks as to the status of the review. He has also started a process where each amendment or notice is tracked through the clearance process to identify where any potential delay may occur. This should result in reduced time for directives to make it through clearance. There was a brief discussion on the hiring process and how it can be improved. During our last visit with management, Associate Administrator Beyerhelm had arranged a demonstration of the ARS based workload model being developed. Not all decisions pertaining to the workload model are final at this time but we are cautiously optimistic that this tool will be beneficial.

Deputy Administrator of Field Operations Greg Diephouse and his Team

We met with Greg and his team and were able to follow up on some concerns that membership had expressed. DAFO is continuing to address the Lead PT issue and some states avoidance in utilizing the position. There are discrepancies in the handbook and the shared management agreement that was previously negotiated with NASCOE. DAFO is working diligently to address those differences and to encourage SED’s to use this valuable tool. NASCOE continues to stress to membership that we need to utilize all of our opportunities to promote deserving employees when policy allows.

NASCOE has received comments from several areas of the country that funding for temporaries is becoming a critical issue and that many temporaries will not be able to stay on board after March 31, 2016. States were initially allocated funding for temporaries through the first and second quarter of FY-16. Some states have had to staff more heavily than others so they may have completely used that initial allocation. Other states may have not used the full allocation. The temporary staffing and funding level is a moving target depending on the amount of past and immediate workload demands. Internal discussions are being held to determine availability of funding temporaries for the remainder of the fiscal year. A decision on the availability of temporary CO employees should be made around the first of March.

During the 2015 negotiation session, management offered to establish a shared management virtual task force to explore ways to improve shared management operations. NASCOE has provided the names of a CED and PT from each of the 5 NASCOE areas for consideration to serve on the task force. With shared management ever increasing, it is imperative that we find ways to improve the system.

NASCOE was notified that DAFO has received the data from the FY-2015 performance cycle but has not had the opportunity to fully examine the results. Greg was encouraged by the initial review of the data and feels that progress has been made in the overall implementation on the process. NASCOE will be able to see the results once DAFO has completed their review.

In addition to these general topics, we also appreciated the opportunity to discuss some specific employee and county committee issues with Greg and his team.

Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs Brad Pfaff and his Team

ACRSI and other program issues were the big topics of the meetings with DAFP Brad Pfaff and the members of his team. NASCOE very much appreciates the privilege of participating in the weekly ACRSI national conference calls and looks forward to contributing to the success of ACRSI in any manner we can. As Administrator Dolcini indicated in our discussion with him, there are some technology glitches that are being corrected. In addition to that, there are some policy gaps that are still being resolved.

NASCOE provided DAFP leaders several of the documents that some of the Approved Insurance Providers have mailed producers soliciting them to not report to FSA but to them instead. This has been troubling to county office field level personnel and NASCOE membership. ACRSI was designed to be able to transfer common data between RMA and FSA. The two pilots have reinforced that FSA is good at taking comprehensive acreage reports. Regardless of what some of these AIP documents are saying, producers should have every confidence that FSA stands prepared to continue to accept the producer supplied aerial photos and complete the producer’s comprehensive acreage report.

Another topic of discussion was the inconsistency in 2-CRP regarding delegations of authority. Due to the restricted number of county committee meetings allowed a couple of years ago, the requirement for the COC to delegate contract approval to the CED was removed and authority was automatically granted to the CED. However, some sections of 2-CRP indicate that the CED can approve without the delegation of authority and other places it indicates the COC has to delegate authority. Since we are no longer restricted in holding county committee meetings, NASCOE was previously told the inconsistencies in 2-CRP would be corrected to show the COC needing to delegate authority to the CED.

We asked about the tree thinning initiative and were informed they are trying to finalize details. We are expecting to receive additional information soon.

National Notice PL-271 has been a major concern from the field. NASCOE had previously submitted questions to the national office through the program submission process. NASCOE learned that the issue was still under discussion and the effective date of February 26, 2016 would be delayed. More information is expected as it becomes available.
IT issues were a common theme in almost all of our discussions. Steve Peterson informed NASCOE that at the beginning of each day he gets a report from a staff member of what programs are experiencing problems. Their responsibility is to access each and every application to see if it is functional at the start of the day and report to him. Any deficiencies are immediately notified to the appropriate section for solutions.

Tonye Gross, ACRSI

We only had a few minutes to meet with Tonye because originally she was not scheduled to be in Washington during our visit. However, her travel plans changed and we were able to visit for a few minutes. We shared our concerns about the advertisements from some of the AIP’s. We thanked her again for letting NASCOE participate in the conference calls and we asked her for some talking points that NASCOE leaders can share with membership during our upcoming state conventions and area rallies. Tonye indicated she would provide a set of talking points and a short PowerPoint presentation for NASCOE to share with membership at the conventions.

Thomas Mulhern and Barbara Boyd from HRD

We would be remiss if we didn’t start this section of the notes out with an extra thank you to Thomas Mulhern and Barbara Boyd. Since this was our last meeting of the day, our 30 minutes scheduled meeting turned into a two-hour discussion and we are grateful for the extra time given.

Our discussion began with an update of the CO hiring process. For the most part NASCOE had received positive comments about the CO hiring process and that the timeline of getting vacancies announced and filled had slightly improved. However, there have been isolated reports of lengthy delays in getting vacancy announcements advertised and positions filled. HRD informed us that there are 6 or 7 current vacancy coordinators and that 2 more were being added. They also reminded NASCOE these are not permanent positions and the vacancy coordinator responsibilities are collateral duties that are assigned in addition to their current obligations.

At our October meeting with HRD, we were informed that a contract had been awarded to develop the PT Aspiring Leadership Program. During our update on the status of this initiative we were informed that the contractor that had been awarded the initial contract was not performing as expected and was in the process of being replaced. While this will obviously delay the program being implemented we were assured the program development would proceed once the new contractor is selected.

We had a lengthy discussion with HRD on CO supervision of GS employees. While this discussion was prompted by a specific situation, the overall discussion was more general in nature. GS employees can supervise CO employees so why shouldn’t it work the other way also. The easy answer is that statute does not allow it so any changes to that will require some changes in the law. The discussion also revealed some potential unintended consequences since a change in the law would also subject CO supervisors to some of the constraints that exist on the GS side.

In summary, NASCOE was warmly welcomed by each and every person we visited while in Washington. It is a tremendous feeling to be able to freely discuss issues and solutions that can improve the service we provide to our producers while at the same time improve the working environment for employees. NASCOE would like to thank Administrator Dolcini and his entire team for their willingness to let us express membership’s thoughts and concerns.

Topics and issues that NASCOE has recently been involved with.

DAFP VTC Bi-weekly Meeting February 18, 2016 Speaker Notes

DAFP Call Notes: ARC County Yields

Programs Submission Response: LIP

Programs Submission Response: AGI 

BTO Shirts Available 
If you are interested in purchasing a Bridges to Opportunity shirt,
please click HERE for item and ordering information:

Did You Just Get A TASCOE Notification On Your Phone?

IMG_2544Did you just get a notification from TASCOE on your phone that looks like this?

No? Well, then you have not downloaded our TASCOE app.

It’s FREE!

For apple, go to the apple app store and search for TASCOE.

For Android phones, go to Google Play and search for TASCOE.

It looks like this:

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IMG_2551IMPORTANT!!
When you download the TASCOE App, it will ask you if you want to receive notifications.
Tell it YES!
Each time a new post is published on the TASCOE Website, you will be notified immediately!
How cool is that?!

 

When you open the TASCOE app,
it looks like this:

 

 

 

 

 

NOW……. here’s a few fun tips:

 

TASCOE is also Mobil-friendly. What does that mean? Well, actually, it had to be mobil-friendly before our app could be created.

Even though we have an app that sends out notifications to you, here’s a cool tip:

IMG_2547 (1)Go to your phone browser
(apple uses safari).

 

Open Safari and type in tascoe.com.
This is what will come up:

IMG_2545

 

 

 

 

 

 

The menu at the top in blue will provide access to the website’s pages in the mobil-friendly format.

 

 

 

But check this out…

Scroll down…. until you see “View Full Site” and click on it.

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tascoe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entire website is at your fingertips with all the fun bells and whistles of the pc version.(check it out and see for yourself). Even in Full Site mode, it’s mobil-cool!!

WHY?

You may ask, why so many versions of a website.

Answer:

TASCOE (as well as NASCOE) realizes its members are highly diversified. Communication options vary drastically due to personal preferences. We are aiming to please.

We are committed to being user friendly in as wide of a variety as possible. Social media and new technology has opened up many new avenues. We hope to provide access in the format that works best for you. We do ask that you work with us as we move further into the technical world. Rome was not built in a day, and neither is a website. 🙂

If you prefer to receive update notifications via email, we’ve got you covered there also.
At the BOTTOM of our website pages you will find the option to “subscribe” to our News Updates via Email (see screenshot below). We also send out tweets on twitter. If you are on Facebook and would like to join our private group, please contact us at tascoetn@gmail.com.

TASCOE | Tennessee Association of Farm Service Agency County Office Employees 2016-02-20 12-52-18

 

tascoe

TASCOE Mid-Year Meeting; April 22nd in Mt. Juliet, TN

VFMLID=70858104The TASCOE Mid-Year meeting has been planned for Friday, April 22, 2016 at 1:00 P.M. and will be held at the Holiday Inn Express in Mt. Juliet, TN.

When making reservations, please let the hotel know you are with the group TASCOE.

As a TASCOE Director or committee chair, you are entitled to travel expenses at 50% of the government mileage rate, per diem and 1 night’s hotel expense.

I will be putting a meeting agenda together and emailing it out later.

If you have something that needs to be added to the agenda, please forward that information to me.

If you would like to meet with your committee during this time, I encourage you to do so.

I have selected committee chairs, it is up to the committee chairs to work with your committee members. If you would like to add other members to your committee, please feel free to do so.

The following link will take you to the page where you may make reservations:

Holiday Inn Express: http://goo.gl/tUs8ND

2016 Upcoming dates:

April 6th-9th-NASCOE Southeast Area Rally at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Savannah, GA
April 22nd– TASCOE Mid-Year Meeting at the Holiday Inn Express in Mt. Juliet, TN
August 2nd-6thNASCOE Convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
September 15th-17th – TASCOE Convention in Gatlinburg, TN at the Park Vista Hotel
(more info coming soon!)

If you have any questions about anything I have mentioned in this email, please don’t hesitate to send me an email, text or call.

Thanks,

CHB
Clint H. Bain
TASCOE President
Cell: 731-695-1333
clihbain@hotmail.com

Wear NASCOE With Pride

12074633_753787801393275_9201462745249904689_nWe, as NASCOE members, and USDA FSA employees,
are honored to be associated with NASCOE & USDA FSA.

So, why not wear our logos with pride?

NASCOE has several new selections in their NASCOE GEAR store.

***Remember!!
8% of all proceeds benefit the NASCOE scholarship fund. 

 

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Busy February for NASCOE; Working Hard For Us

I28It’s been a busy winter for our NASCOE leadership team.
Their dedication to not only our needs, but the needs of the producers we serve is incredible.
Expressions of appreciation and gratitude are in order.

Below is a list of links to topics and issues that NASCOE is involved in this winter:

 NASCOE News Flash 02.18.2016

Programs Submission Response: ARC/PLC Reports

Programs Submission Response: Eligibility Forms

Programs Submission Response: Acreage Reporting Fees

Programs Submission Response: Direct Deposit Notifications

DAFP VTC Meeting Notes: February 4, 2016 

Overview of New Publicity Strategy 

Updates from the NASCOE Pre-Negotiation Meeting (Jan 18th, 2016)

Programs Submission Response: FSAfarm+  

DAFP VTC Meeting Notes: January 7, 2016

SEA Needs YOUR Recipes!

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NASCOE/SEA is putting together a Fundraiser Cook Book and they are asking for your recipes.

Megan Kennedy in Georgia is working hard putting together a Southeast Area Cookbook that will be used as a Rally fundraiser. She desperately needs every state to submit recipes so she can get the cookbook finished, printed, and distributed so we can start raising funds.

It’s really easy and won’t take but a couple minutes of your time. The best recipes and cooks are in the south and we are asking that each of you send Megan a few good recipes.

You can email them to Megan at:

info@gacoe.net

Please submit your recipes ASAP.

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