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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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Southern Grown SEA Rally to be held in Savannah, GA

South East AreaAttached is a Registration Form for the 2016 SEA Area Rally in Savannah, GA. Please help make sure this gets distributed far and wide. As you can see from the registration form, this is going to be an awesome rally and we want to make sure everyone knows about it. Also, don’t forget that we all need to be buying and selling raffle tickets for the cash prizes. Hope to see you in Savannah!

Donny Green,
Southeast Area Legislative Chair

and

David Curtis,
Southeast Area Executive CommitteePerson

 

Legislative Report on 2015 Budget

Legislative Report on 2015 Budget

Wes Daniels, NASCOE President

Wes Daniels,
NASCOE President

Big Wins for FSA and NASCOE!!

Legislative Report 2015 Budget

Following the nearly year-long 2015 budget process, NASCOE leadership is pleased to report that U.S. Congress has passed the omnibus appropriations measure. With the President’s signature, this legislation is now public law and allows FSA to operate without significant county office closures or employee reductions. NASCOE fully supports the new law’s FSA funding levels and related general provisions. Most importantly, the agreement adequately funds salaries and expenses which makes it possible for our membership to continue servicing production agriculture.

Fiscal Year 2015 budget highlights include:

  •  Provides 60.8 M above the President’s budget for FSA Salaries and Expenses (S&E).
  •  Provides $22 M above the 2014 funding level for FSA S&E.
  • Prohibits unlimited funding transfers from the FSA S&E account.
  • Prohibits county office closures and directs the Department to conduct workload assessments.
  • Prohibits directed reassignment of staff without Congressional notification.
  • Provides funding for COC Meetings.

    NASCOE commends members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate for considering our organization’s specific requests and completing this year’s budget. We will continue to work with FSA leadership to address FSA’s structural and program implementation challenges. In addition, we remain supportive of efforts to advance investment technology/software development activities so our offices meet the demands of FSA’s customers.

    Thank you to the full NASCOE membership for identifying our challenges and helping make this year’s budget process become one of our most successful legislative accomplishments.

NASCOE PAC Breaking News–Urgent Deadline

NASCOE PAC Breaking News–Urgent Deadline

PACHow would you like the chance to win a $13,000 prize package for your state’s association? We are rolling out a NASCOE PAC promotional event that will begin Monday, July 28 and will continue through August 16. The purpose of this promotion is to allow each state to focus on recruiting new PAC enrollees and/or encourage current enrollees to increase their pay period contributions to NASCOE’s PAC.
Understanding that we have members that may not have been informed on the importance of NASCOE’s PAC and how NASCOE uses the PAC as an essential tool to carry out our legislative efforts, we are using this promotion period to encourage state presidents, legislative chairpersons, state directors, and other members to talk to others who are not currently participating in NASCOE’s PAC. We need your help at the state level to make sure every member knows and understands why PAC participation is vital to the success of our legislative efforts in Washington D.C.
To make this promotional effort exciting and competitive, we are offering a “friendly competition” as an incentive for helping NASCOE recruit new members and increased contributions from those current contributors who can afford to give a little more. The details of this competition are attached, along with a flyer that you can use to send out in emails (remember, please never send anything PAC related from your government computer or email address). 
 
In addition, we have attached some recruitment resource tools you can use to assist with talking points and other facts about the NASCOE PAC.
Lastly, I have attached a NASCOE PAC Enrollment Form (this form is also used for those who wish to increase their pay period contributions). Please make sure that you get the name, office phone number, cell phone number, both office and home email addresses, and signatures included on the enrollment forms.Once I receive the enrollment forms,  I will gladly contact new enrollees, or current enrollees who want to increase their contributions, and assist them in completing their financial allotment process. The priority is to get the  basic contact information and signature acknowledging intent to contribute. 
 
If anyone needs more information about this promotion effort or NASCOE’s PAC, please feel free to contact Donny Green by email at chief300@dtccom.net, or by cell phone at 615-464-7176. 
 
Donny Green, SEA Legislative Chair

Donny Green, SEA Legislative Chair

We sincerely appreciate your time and effort in getting the word out about this PAC Promotional Event! So, be ready to hit the ground running first thing Monday morning and put your state association in the running to win some awesome prizes! 

 
Thank you!
Donny Green, SEA Legislative Chairperson/PAC Coordinator
NASCOE
PLEASE CLICK ON IMPORTANT LINKS BELOW:

NASCOE PAC Promotion

NASCOE PAC Promotion Details and Rules

NASCOE PAC DONOR Information Form

NASCOE PAC Brochure

 

 

NASCOE’s Visit To DC This Week.

NASCOE’s Visit To DC This Week.

Donny Green, SEA Legislative Chair

Donny Green, SEA Legislative Chair

Good late evening everyone! Attached is a letter summarizing NASCOE’s visit to DC this week.

It would be good if everyone took the time to go to:

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee Hearing on FSA’s FY15 Budget

Also:  

The above link will take you to the archived video of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee Hearing on FSA’s FY15 Budget. This was a very revealing hearing and certainly should concern all of us and encourage us to become engaged with our grassroots efforts to develop and enhance relationships with our legislators at home. I hope each of you are working to get me your key contacts for our grassroots efforts that I sent you earlier this week. Remember, I need this information back no later than April 4.

We should be proud of what NASCOE is doing and we should be optimistic about the news of the proposed 3.3% pay increase for federal employees under legislation proposed this week by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA). Always feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Lastly, I hope everyone is making plans to attend the SEA Rally in Little Rock, Ark. April 9-14. I know the Arkansas bunch will be serving up some excellent hospitality and I have learned today that some DC Management folks will be in attendance and this should be an excellent opportunity to hear their responses to our concerns. I regret that I will not be able to attend due to some training schedule conflicts, but I Kevin Wooten, NASCOE Legislative Co-Chairperson, will be in attendance and will give everyone some legislative update reports.
Thanks for all you do!
Donny Green, Southeast Area Legislative Chair
Ag Cuts Also Get Thumbs Down From Both Parties

Ag Cuts Also Get Thumbs Down From Both Parties

Budget cuts symbolCQ NEWS
March 26, 2014 – 3:29 p.m.
Move to Trim Farm Service Agency Network Unpopular With Appropriators
By Ellyn Ferguson, CQ Roll Call
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s call for modernizing his department’s network of Farm Service Agency offices met with bipartisan skepticism Wednesday.
The reaction from members of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee actually represents progress on the issue. Farm state lawmakers have dismissed out of hand office closing or consolidation proposals by Vilsack and his predecessors in the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.
Vilsack testified before the subcommittee on a fiscal 2015 budget request of nearly $20 billion in discretionary funding, which is controlled by the subcommittee.
The department proposes $122.4 billion in mandatory funding, which is technically outside the panel’s jurisdiction although appropriators sometimes reduce funding levels. When Vilsack appeared before the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee on March 14, the focus was largely on the department’s school meal program and food aid programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for low-income people.
The food programs drew little comment from the senators, but Vilsack’s proposal to close as many as 250 FSA offices attracted attention.
He told the subcommittee that he expects no action will be taken in calendar year 2014. He said 30 offices have no full-time staff and another 111 one-person offices are located within 20 miles of another office.
Vilsack envisions offices staffed by several people who are knowledgeable not only about farm, conservation and disaster assistance programs but also areas such as rural development and local food market opportunities. There would be main offices with a supervisor and staff, branch offices with several workers and satellite offices open by appointment. All the offices would function as one-stop sources of information and help although there would be a greater emphasis on online services.
“Our FSA budget has been hit pretty hard in the last several years and as a result we reduced our workforce by 20 percent. In addition, we are expecting technology changes which should improve the way we do our work and should save time for our staff,” Vilsack said.
The focus this year will be to determine where the work and the concentration of farm operations line up, he said.
“This is not about saving money. This is about redirecting resources and shoring up the system and modernizing the system,” Vilsack added.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said the Department of Agriculture has talked for years about streamlining operations and co-locating FSA and Natural Resources Conservation offices for greater efficiency. Not much has changed, though, he said.
“There are tremendous challenges still with this concept that farmers have the technology necessary to do this at home or their office. If we could be a partner in this process, it would be useful,” Moran said, echoing a request by ranking Republican Roy Blunt that the USDA update subcommittee members as the process moves along.
Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat and farmer, urged Vilsack to proceed cautiously. His brother-in-law in Montana already drives 70 miles one way to see an FSA agent. Tester also said while there are tech-savvy farmers, a number of producers do not have the at-home technology to do online applications at home.
Tester noted that the USDA has its own long-standing history of an aging computer network and incompatible computer software in FSA offices.
“I just got a call from my neighbor that went in [to a local FSA office] and they didn’t have the program set up to do what needed to be done. They love their FSA agents, but were sent home and told to come back another day,” Tester said.
FSA offices may be more critical than ever as the 2014 farm bill (PL 113-79) is implemented, Tester said. The law replaces annual direct payments to eligible farmers with new price and revenue support programs and expanded crop insurance. Farmers must make a one-time selection of either the price or revenue program as their financial safety net for the life of the five-year farm bill.
“If offices are closed and they [farmers] don’t get those programs in a timely manner, we’re setting ourselves up for an explosion in rural America,” Tester warned.
“We don’t want that and that is not going to happen,” Vilsack responded. “The goal is to make sure we serve folks in a proper and effective way and that we modernize a system that honestly, senator, requires modernization.” Vilsack added that changes would have to address Tester’s concerns.
“Modernizing the system language has been around for 25 years and it hasn’t been done yet,” replied Tester.
“It’s happening, senator,” Vilsack replied.
Source: CQ News
Round-the-clock coverage of news from Capitol Hill.
Who’s Got Your Back?

Who’s Got Your Back?

IMG_4769With the new Farm Bill now in place and implementation begins, we are approaching yet another phase of the agricultural journey. Sometimes at moments like this, it is a good idea to take a step back and look at the entire picture. It helps with our perspective on things.

Farmers and the American Farm are the key link to our food source. They are one of the most valuable assets this nation possesses. Making sure this precious link thrives is a priority that should not be taken lightly. Thus, the reason for the existence of Farm Service Agency. When things go wrong, (low market, disaster, etc.) FSA is the catalyst “We the People” use to assist and preserve this treasured American forte.

Because of what we do, Farm Service Agency is especially vital to this nation. So, while we are looking out for the Farmers amidst all the government red tape, who’s looking out for us? Well, NASCOE is doing just that. From benefits to current issues, NASCOE is the impetus there, in place, on the spot, looking out for the staffing of Farm Service Agency. Nothing could have proved this more than the frightening furlough we just experienced last fall. The ONLY pipeline of info and news coming out of Washington D.C. came through NASCOE.

And speaking of Washington D.C., the legislative system of our great nation has its own manner of handling things. We can either get in the loop, or holler from a far. This is where PAC comes in. Political Action Committees are an integral part of the legislative process. Issues important to NASCOE members (FSA staffing), such as office closures, staffing, technology, benefits, and workload, are frequently debated in the legislative process. Yes, it is a Special Interest Group. NASCOE PAC is OUR Special Interest Group. When we all shut down our computers and went home last fall, NASCOE PAC was in place and on it, fighting on our behalf, and sending info and updates out to us swiftly.

And here is the really cool part, while working on our behalf, NASCOE still keeps an ear to the ground and a voice of reason concerning our beloved producers. Is that not invigorating to realize? As we go into the phase of implementing the new Farm Bill, grass root common farm sense is vital. Here is where manure-clad boots meet the ink pen.

Donny Green, SEA Legislative Chair

Donny Green, SEA Legislative Chair

So, if you ever wonder who’s got your back, rest assured, while we are here for the farmers, NASCOE & NASCOE PAC are here for us. If you are not a member of NASCOE or not contributing to PAC, I urge you to consider it. Without them, we are left out in the cold.

Our NASCOE Legislative Committee and Area Legislative Chairs (especially our very own Donny Green) works diligently on our behalf and THANKS for a super job are in order!

 

 

 

FEBRUARY 2014 CALL WITH DAFO

FEBRUARY 2014 CALL WITH DAFO

IMG_4699

Below are notes from President Mark Vanhoose’s call with DAFO on February 5, 2014. As you can see, we are finally getting a little much-needed positive news! We want to thank everyone who took the time to help with grassroots efforts to help us relay our concerns during the Farm Bill debate.
Thanks,
Donny Green, Southeast Area Legislative Chair

FEBRUARY 2014 CALL WITH DAFO

I had a call with DAFO Greg Diephouse on the morning of February 5, 2014, to discuss various topics. See comments from the discussion below:

  •   We have some concerns about a plan in the Southwest Area to hire a Key PT position by advertising outside FSA nationwide. The advertisement does not seem to meet procedure standards. Greg promised to review this situation. And I promised to forward additional information on this case.
  •   Greg indicated that the budget for FSA is still being determined but he is optimistic for FY 2014 and hopes that face to face training can be increased. He is also hopeful that temporary employees can be utilized to assist with initial demands of the Farm Bill. I stressed that NASCOE hopes that additional permanent employees can be added as well.
  •   We discussed the 2 employees and 20 mile rule that is still part of the permanent Farm Bill law. He stated that part time county offices would subject to the 2 and 20 rule if they were more than 20 miles from the nearest office
  •   The new delivery project continues to make progress in identifying opportunities for improving our service delivery model and strengthening the future of the Agency. The working group has been engaging and intends to engage employees in the discussion next. The agency looks forward to sharing them with NASCOE and working to incorporate further input maybe early March 2014.”
  •   Greg reiterated that the Secretary is a proponent of the FSA county office and wants to continue to promote us as a key player in future immigration legislation and he sees FSA as a resource that should be leveraged for citizens needing USDA services.Wes Daniels and I have plans to go to WDC the first week of March to address additional issues and follow up on items above.

Post Comment:

Good afternoon all,
Some of you had questioned my notes concerning the 2 and 20 rule and how this rule applied to offices open on a limited basis (as example two days a week).  Greg Diephouse stated that the 2 and 20 mile rule would apply equally in the same manner for all offices.  So my take is that if a limited basis office is more than 20 miles from another office then it not close without management jumping through additional hoops just like offices open full time.  I hope this helps on the interpretation.  Bottom line is that management isn’t going to make specific statements on office closures until they decipher this Farm Bill further.
Mark VanHoose
County Executive Director
Farm Service Agency
United States Department of Agriculture
771 East Main Street
Newark, Ohio 43055