NASCOE Scholarship Deadline January 1

Please see our current applications for scholarships and awards in the NEA.  I have to think we have more employees than two in the whole area who could benefit from scholarships and I KNOW we have folks deserving of a DSA.  The deadline is January 1.  Please encourage your members to consider applying for a scholarship or nominating a deserving individual for a DSA.  If you have any questions, I know that Annette or I would be happy to help.
Distinguished Service Award for services to NASCOE – 0
Distinguished Service Award for services to FSA/Agriculture – 0
Distinguished Service Award for services to Community – 0
 
Scholarships:
Traditional Scholarship – 2 (NY and MA)
Open Continuing Education Scholarship – 0
Member Continuing Education Scholarship – 0
Continuing Education for Adult Children of Members – 0
Grandchildren Scholarship – 0
Associate member scholarship – 0
Thanks!
Rick Csutoras
NASCOE NE Area Exec

NASCOE: Notes from Meeting with Management

The NASCOE President, Vice President and selected NASCOE members traveled to Washington, DC on December 11-13, 2017.  The report (below) is an accounting of the trip and is to be shared with membership.

Periodically the NASCOE President and Vice President travel to Washington, DC to meet with FSA management. December 11th through the 13th marked the first trip for me and newly elected Vice President Brandon Wilson to meet with management. Our first meeting was on Monday afternoon and we had back-to-back appointments scheduled through Wednesday afternoon. In addition to me and Brandon, two NASCOE members from Texas and Minnesota also traveled to DC and spent Tuesday on the Hill with the NASCOE Legislative Consultant visiting with key congressional members about FSA work activities.

Brandon and I met first with the Office of Budget and Finance (OBF) team on Monday afternoon. Most of the discussion centered around the status of the FSA workload tool. The managerial cost analysis (MCA) working group is still having routine conference calls with the members of the work group as they continue to make progress toward a final product. Going forward it is anticipated that focus will shift from determining what items to count and how to count them to taking that data and using it to determine staffing. Currently NASCOE has representation on the work group and will continue to do so in the future.

On Tuesday morning we met with the Director of the Human Resources Division (HRD). HRD has been tasked to prepare for handling a potential surge of onboard hiring requests once FSA has authorization to advertise and hire. They are prepared to streamline where possible which should expedite the process. HRD is also reviewing the hiring process for FSA and NRCS. Now that both agencies are under the FPAC Mission Area they will be looking at best practices to determine how hiring will be handled in the future. A pilot is being planned for the next round of GS hiring that will probably be a hybrid of the two agency models. There is some discussion involving the future of the CO hiring process but that is not expected to have an immediate impact. HRD also discussed the Pathway Intern and Fellowship programs for State Offices and the National Office. They see the Fellowship program as an effective tool to bring the field office perspective into the National Office.

After meeting with HRD we met with Acting Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs (DAFP) and staff members. We discussed a variety of topics that have been raised by membership such as the late file reporting period ending one year after the Acreage Reporting Date, various software work arounds and the nonpayment reports only showing one error message at a time. The biggest barrier to correcting some of these issues is the cost compared to available budgets. There are nearly 1,000 enhancements that need to be applied to software. They are prioritized and ranked according to need. Many of these enhancements are a result of NASCOE members making suggestions through the Programs Committee.

During lunch we met with the CIO. We discussed the issue of CARS not being available on November 15th and much of the 16th. It was discovered the issue wasn’t with CARS itself but rather the authentication process. All available resources were devoted to correcting the problem and expected solutions didn’t immediately work. We were also notified that USDA is expected to lead the way in modernizing IT not only for USDA, but for the federal government. IT is exploring ways in which producers can receive online authentication that would not only allow them access to their program information with USDA, but would also allow access to any federal government agency.

After lunch we met with the Acting Administrator and his assistant. We thanked him for increasing the FY-17 performance based award amounts back to previous levels. We discussed staffing and the fact that the restraint on hiring has made providing customer service a real challenge. The Acting Administrator has been putting a case together on how to justify the need to hire and will be presenting that to the Secretary’s office soon. He is looking at assembling a group to start assessing the workload model’s ability to determine staffing levels. We were also told that there are still a handful of SED’s that have not been named yet and that funding for temporaries and county committees have been issued to states and it is up the state to balance how that is used.

We received a brief update on the Bridges To Opportunity program from the Bridges program manager. Fact sheets and program information for all three agencies of FPAC will be added to the resource libraries in the software. FSA will still be providing information and services through the portal; however, all available information will pertain to all FPAC agencies. Receipt for services will still be included although it is likely that most of the information will be prepopulated, and FSA users will not have to go through the producer selection process in many instances.

Later in the afternoon we met with the acting Administrator of Field Operations (DAFO) and staff members. We thanked DAFO for their role in increasing the FY-17 performance based award amounts. We discussed Notice PM-2993 and the FY-18 performance plans and some concerns that we have with parts of the notice. We had previously submitted some questions and are currently waiting on clarification. We asked about the shared management task force that had been agreed to during a previous negotiation session. With national office retirements and new SED’s just now coming on board this has not been addressed yet. At this time, FSA does not know when the task force will be established. We also asked about the possibility of having non-ceiling COTS as we have in the past to help states maximize their ceilings.

Visits to the National Office by the President and Vice President will be very beneficial in the future as USDA moves forward with reorg. It is important to advance the goals of the association and Brandon and I feel that this visit has allowed NASCOE to be more involved and better positioned to represent membership as we go forward. The working relationships with management have been and will continue to be a high priority for NASCOE.

As we go into this Christmas season it is my wish that each of you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Please take time to get away from the stress of the office and enjoy time with family and friends. Please travel safely if you are traveling and we look forward to what the new Year will bring.

Respectfully submitted,

Dennis Ray
NASCOE President

Summary of top concerns from NASCOE

It is not news to anyone that we have a lot going on in the agency and federal government in general.  Members have been asking questions and sharing concerns about everything from the USDA Reorg efforts to FSA logos.  Your Exec Committee has been having routine conference calls to ensure that your comments are passed up and that NASCOE is in the best possible position.

We also think it’s important to have routine updates for membership on these issues so that you know that we’re hearing your suggestions and that we’re continuing to work hard on your behalf.  So please see a summary (below) that our President, Dennis Ray, has prepared regarding a few of the biggest issues.  We’ll continue to keep you informed as we go forward.

As usual, please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Thank you!

Rick Csutoras
NACOE NE Area Exec

The executive committee held a conference call this week to discuss workload, reorg and to act on a couple of business matters. Below is a summary of a few of topics discussed.

The current reorg of the Department has naturally generated questions, both about how it might affect us going forward and about what NASCOE is doing to monitor the situation. Currently, NASCOE supports Secretary Perdue’s efforts to reorganize the Department of Agriculture and believes that any reorganization should focus on FSA’s footprint and providing better customer service. The county office footprint is critical to the effective administration of our programs. We believe that the greatest service model in government is the County Committee System and protecting strengthening their local authority remains a high priority. NASCOE continues to work closely with our legislative consultant to monitor activities and to promote our legislative and reorg priorities. These include CRP, acreage reporting, dairy and all commodity programs.

NASCOE membership has expressed the need for a tool to accurately report and assess workload ever since FSA discontinued work measurement and workload reporting. We believe that a valid workload tool is critical to ensure that staffing levels are consistently applied across the country. The Managerial Cost Analysis Working Group (MCA) is currently working to develop and deploy a workload tool. NASCOE has had a representative on the MCA for the past 18 months. Past president Wes Daniels has assumed the duties of representing NASCOE of this working group. A NASCOE priority of the workload tool is that the data is calculated and shared down to the county level. Earlier indications were that it was close to being to a point that data could be shared but that appears to have slowed a little. Wes is participating on routine conference calls that are designed to fine tune and advance the deployment of the workload tool.

NASCOE has spent considerable effort in the past to build strong relationships with the senior management of FSA and that continues to be a focus. With the turnover of the administration and the retirement of several experienced employees in the national office, there is much work to be done in this area. We are fortunate however, that many of the program specialists and career employees that we have dealt with in the past remain and we are able to visit with them as concerns and issues arise. Many have assumed additional duties which has placed a premium on their time, but they try to be as accommodating to our requests as they can.

It is fully expected there will be travel required in the very near future to meet with our legislative consultant, meet with management and key congressional members. This travel will primarily be by the President and Vice President as we negotiate with management on issues and concerns. If needed, there may also be times that NASCOE members might be asked to fly in to meet with key congressional members. This travel has been expected and planned for as we work to maintain NASCOE’s position through the reorg process, build relationships as new appointees come on board, maintain relationships with career employees and continue to participate in the development of the workload tool.

Respectfully Submitted,

Dennis Ray
NASCOE President

Doug Kilgore new PACOE President

If you haven’t heard the rumor yet, my name seems to have landed as the PACOE President, so I plan to try my best to move this organization forward.  And I’m grateful for the folks who have agreed to serve as officers and as PACOE Executive Board members because their help is important in assisting me and representing our membership across Pennsylvania.   The preceding email from NASCOE NE Area Exec Rick Csutoras elaborates on the 2018 PACOE officer elections.

First and foremost here are some goals I think we need to be working on in 2018.

  1. Communications-  With everything that’s going on in DC which includes our FSA budget and Farm Bill discussions, it’s absolutely important we are regularly communicating to all of you what NASCOE is doing for us in DC.  Additionally, we as PACOE members have responsibilities to use our organization as a way to let our feelings be known about the needs in our FSA offices and improvements to our FSA programs.  Communications need to go both ways for our PACOE members to benefit and for that reason this is a priority.  As NASCOE communications come to me as President, I will forward them to all of you.  Feel free to contact me or any of the officers or executive committee on areas of concern you have within our FSA organization.
  2. Establish Relationships-  We have a new State Executive Director (SED) on board and I think it’s very important that we have a positive, working relationship with him. A letter will be going out asap welcoming him to the SED position and offering him the opportunity to meet with the PACOE leadership at a time convenient for him.  If we assist in helping to get to know FSA and our staff,  I think only good things can come from that.  Additionally, I think there should be a discussion on what membership activities we could do for our membership recognizing the limitations of a large statewide  membership.
  3. Membership-  Over the last few years, many new staff members have joined our FSA offices and they should be appropriately informed of the PACOE organization.  The leadership will be looking at this opportunity and discuss the best ways to market PACOE to our county FSA offices.

At this time, the one request I have for all of you is to send me an email using your personal email provider, so we can have the most current data of personal email addresses.

That’s all for now and expect some additional communications to follow regarding NASCO activity.

Thank you for your support of PACOE and I look forward to working with all of you in 2018!

Doug Kilgore

PACOE President

Perdue Announces Farm Service Agency State Directors

(Washington, D.C. November 3, 2017) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a slate of Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Rural Development (RD) State Directors, all serving as appointees of President Donald J. Trump.  FSA State Directors help implement U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policies in planning, organizing, and administering FSA programs in their respective states. They are also responsible for running the day-to-day activities of the state FSA office.  Similarly, RD State Directors work to help improve the economy and quality of life in rural America.

“These state directors will help ensure that USDA is offering the best customer service to our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and agricultural producers across the country,” Secretary Perdue said. “FSA and RD both play a critical role in helping the people of agriculture, and are able to connect with people in their home states.  They are the initial points of contact for millions of our USDA customers.  Our goal is to help rural America prosper, and these state leaders will be of great assistance in that task.”

You can read the full release and list of state directors here.  The appointments for Pennsylvania are listed below:

FSA State Directors:

Pennsylvania: Gary Groves

Gary Groves returns to the USDA having previously served as the State Director for Rural Development in Pennsylvania.  He is a graduate of Purdue University School of Agriculture, lives on a farm in Wyoming County and raises Belgian Draft Horses.

Rural Development State Directors:

Pennsylvania: Curt Coccodrilli

Curt Coccodrilli has been integrally involved in numerous efforts to address the needs of rural Pennsylvania, promoting rural economic development and leading campaigns to ensure state and federal regulations recognize the need for such development.

2017 NASCOE Convention Report- St. Charles, MO

The NASCOE convention convened with the call to order by President Wes Daniels. There were 6 attendees from Pennsylvania.

Kansas was the only state that made a bid for the 2019 convention.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota will host 2018 convention.

There were 16 attendees from WDC. Each one had a few words for the convention and then there was a Q & A. If you have never attended an Area Rally or a Convention, this is a tremendous honor to NASCOE, to have the leaders from WDC attend the convention and take the time to answer questions (Q&A’s to be distributed at a later date and program questions will be found there).

Chris Breyehelm – Acting Administrator, shared a few items. The biggest part of his message is that all the agencies are vying for their budgets. FSA needs more money in our budget so get our story out there. FSA makes a difference in people’s lives with clean water, air and healthy food to eat. With the hiring freeze, USDA was able to cut 22% of the budget. Recently, the Secretary has approved about 200 people to be hired and 200 more external people will be hired. Congress has marked up the budget from the President’s proposal. They are looking to add more training for leadership and PT counter skill training. He reminded everyone to take the employee survey when it is offered. They are committed to updating the handbooks. He spoke about ARS and how extremely important it is to make sure your activities are accurate. No one should ever be working past scheduled hours unless you are getting comp time or credit hours. Supervisors should be keeping an eye on this. If the time is not recorded there is no way to have accurate workload reports. Length of service will now be receiving a coin with years of service instead of the employees picking a gift. There will be a movement on reaching out to non-operating landowners to see about working with beginning farmers.

John Chott – Acting Deputy Administrator of Field Operations- focus is on customer service. It appears that the money for temps will go into the end of FY; possibly move into the new FY. He spoke about the counter skills training for PT’s. This is an idea from NASCOE. PT’s developed the training. There are approximately 6,000 PT’s that will take the course. It will be up to each State to determine how the training will be delivered to the PT’s. John attended our Area break out session. When he was asked about the workload model, he refused to give any details. It was stated that they are close to having a useable workload report. It was again stated how VERY IMPORTANT, it is that everyone is coding their T&A’s correctly. Common Programs is over used.

Emblems, Awards & Scholarship report –

Money for awards and scholarships does not come out of membership dues. All money is earned through the sales of emblems and the auctions. Emblem sales form August 1, 2016 – July 31, 2017 totaled $ 48,027.00. There are 3 award categories and 6 scholarship categories.

For the awards members need to nominate their co-workers. They would like to see at least one nomination from every state. So, if one of your co-workers fits into one of these categories you should be nominating them. These awards are different from FSA. So nominate those you feel are deserving.

The Scholarship winners were as follows:

Traditional – Claire Eggerman IL

Open Continuing – Ryan Stratton, PA

Member Continuing – Jessica Brough, OH

Grandchildren – Lane Wolfe, MO

Adult Continuing – Monica Coleman, VA

Associate Member – Andi McMillin, TX

 

The award winners were as follows:

Service to community – John Mark Kinnibrugh, TX

Service to FSA/Agriculture – Steve Abbas, IA

Service to NASCOE – Kay Lumsden, MI

The scholarship auction was held during the convention for Scholarship. An estimated total of $13,000 dollars was raised.

Dillard Financial was present and they did a presentation about retirement. They are available to talk with members about their TSP and retirement options (consultation is free). The newest member to Dillard is Val Dolcini. Please contact them if you thinking about retirement.

Since the election resulted in both houses of Congress and the Presidency being the same party, there will likely be a great deal of issues brought up that will adversely affect FSA employees. Among the proposals are: raising the amount employees contribute toward their FERS retirement system, changing the retirement calculation to use the highest 5 years average salary from the current 3 year average, decreasing the contribution amount that the government pays toward your health insurance, replacing only one employee for every three that leave government service, reducing the number of government employees and many more. The President has publicly stated he wants to cut $54 billion from domestic spending and use the money to increase spending on defense. The administration stated we will need to “do more with less”, and so we should expect our FSA budget to be under pressure. Right now, there are no specifics, but as the President’s 2018 budget is delivered to Congress, we will start to see what the direction will be as the budget process continues.

All NASCOE members will need to be ready to contact their Congressman about proposals that will adversely affect our future employment, benefits, retirement and working conditions. We should all be establishing a relationship with the local aide in the Congressman’s office and when specific proposals emerge, our relation-ship will help us address the issues with the Congressman. We all have a voice in what happens and we need to use it!

In addition, we can begin contributing to the NASCOE PAC. The Political Action Committee (PAC) continues to be an important part of our legislative process. The PAC is a resource to help get our Representative’s attention. It is also a resource in which we can help Legislators, who are friends of Agriculture and FSA, to get re-elected.

Hunter Moorehead and NASCOE Leadership carefully choose which members of Congress to support in their efforts to get re-elected. These are the people that will fight for us when we get into the important issues of employee benefits, restructuring offices, etc. We need that assistance from these Representatives when times get tough and the PAC helps us accomplish that goal. Unfortunately, money talks… and many other groups are lobbying for the same budget money we are in order to keep our jobs, so the PAC is very important to all of us.

The number of PAC donators improved last year nationwide. However, we can do much better and need to discuss this with our members. Donating to the PAC is done through a deduction from each paycheck automatically and it only takes a minute to set up. If you have not signed up to donate to the NASCOE PAC, please consider doing so…it is a vital part of our NASCOE mission.

So what has NASCOE done? Well in the past few years, NASCOE has:

  • The most recent win for NASCOE was the buyback time. This affected many employees who are still working that were hired on before 1989. This was due to NASCOE.
  • Are you in an office with an employee who was hired in the past 4 years? NASCOE has saved 815 FTE’s. We have 593 offices here in the Midwest Area. NASCOE was also scheduled to take a $61 MILLION dollar hit. This was saved. FSA operated like normal with no staffing reduction. This was due to NASCOE.
  • How about 5-7 years ago, when NASCOE got us credit for our sick leave towards retirement. This helped many offices where employees were struggling with “FERS FLU”.
  • Employee’s with 30+ years of service may remember the days of taking Leave Without Pay (LWOP) since County Office employees were not recognized like GS employees were. We are not entitled to anything in life, let alone at FSA. Our leave is a benefit. Many people do not know that our leave is negotiated on a yearly basis. However, NASCOE negotiates it since we are not GS employees we are CO employees.

Since NASCOE can’t control the lack of cost of living increases, or our insurance premiums going up, NASCOE is always looking out for our members. NASCOE said if we can’t control it let’s look at other avenues. Did you know:

 

  1. There are 40-50 NASCOE members working on multiple task forces. One task forces includes the PT reclassification task force. Yes, that’s right, NASCOE realizes our programs are much more complex and to retain good talent, working on upgrading to PT’s to Grade 8. This is difficult due to budgetary, but at least NASCOE and WDC management are working on this together. Grade 7’s didn’t happen overnight. Many of you may remember being a CO-3. Look where we have come, thanks to NASCOE.
  2. KEY PT’s – here’s that first step to item a, and also upward mobility for PT’s who are not mobile. Key PT’s are Grade 8’s.
  3. Grade 9 Acting In Charge PT’s, now have the ability to potentially apply for a CED vacancy, another item NASCOE has gotten for us, depending on how the COC wants to open the CED vacancy.

The list goes on. As we enter into a time of restructuring, encourage everyone to join NASCOE. The more members we have, the stronger our voice is.

NAFEC

NAFEC Leadership met in St. Charles Missouri along with NASCOE which is our county office employee’s organization and RASCOE which is the retirees group of ASCS/FSA. Every year this is an opportunity for employees in our local County Offices and Elected County Committees to meet together and discuss ways to strengthen our FSA delivery system. NAFEC’s primary goal is to protect local control and authorities for our Farmer Elected Committees.

NAFEC had the opportunity to meet with Leadership from USDA’s FSA office in Washington D.C. to discuss issues of importance. NAFEC is always available to advise and help local committees if they have problems or questions they need help with.

The 2018 Farm Bill currently being discussed by both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees appears to be moving forward. Recently Chairman Roberts of the Senate Agriculture Committee asked Majority Leader McConnell about moving the 2018 Farm Bill. Majority Leader McConnell said the sooner the better which is a good sign from Leadership that floor time will be made available in the Senate when the Agriculture Committee has a bill ready for Senate action.

Also in the House Agriculture Committee Chairman Conaway has indicated that his committee is also ready to begin the writing of the 2018 Farm Bill. If the process moves forward we could see early next year the new farm bill taking shape. I don’t believe there will be major changes in the farm bill but because of the current low prices and economic stress on our farms and ranches there may be an effort to raise prices. The result will be that FSA will still play a major role in delivering farm programs to our producers.

Also word is that the Agriculture Appropriations Bill will be ready for the House Floor in September as a part of 8 bill combination. Chairman Sessions of the House Rules Committee has said that the House Rule will not allow any amendments that would take money from the agriculture bill and move it to another agency. That is good news that will help keep USDA funding in place as the new budget year nears. Provisions in both the House and Senate bills has full funding for county office employees as well as protects funding for COC’s to meet when needed to conduct business. So with understaffing in many of our offices, there should not be any further downsizing.

NAFEC is told that as many as 30% of our CED’s will be eligible for retirement in the next two years. State offices need to have the people trained necessary to have qualified COT lists for County Committees to interview to hire for vacant CED positions. Remember County Committees hire the CED’s, you don’t have to accept who the State Office sends if you don’t think they will be a fit for your local office.

 

USDA appointments have been moving very slow and NAFEC will keep an eye on them and update you as positions are filled.

2017-2018 Executive Officers Elected:

President- Dennis Ray

Vice-president- Brandon Wilson

Treasurer- Curt Houck

Secretary- Marcinda Kester

 

Respectfully submitted by your Pennsylvania Delegates,

Robin Robertson

John Stinavage

PACOE News: Upcoming Election of Officers and Seeking Delegates to Convention

Hello to all!!

I hope the crop reporting season is going well for everyone!! As crop reporting ramps up that means that its time for the New PACOE year!! That means 2 things. First off, we will need to have an election of officers. Typically the president serves a two year term which means my time is up! So if anyone would like to step up and be willing to serve it would be very much appreciated! There is no better time than now to get involved. Its really not that bad and can be very rewarding!

The second thing is we need 2 volunteers to be PACOE delegates to the the NASCOE National Convention. This year the Convention will be held in St. Charles, Missouri. The convention will be held from August 2-5, 2017. The delegates are reimbursed for all expenses and serve as serves as the voting attendee on PACOES behalf. If you’ve never been to one of the Conventions you need to consider it!! Its a great opportunity to meet new people from one side of the Country to the other. There will also be FSA representatives from Washington DC and you very well may get inside look at all of the changes that may be coming our way in FY18. If you would be interested in serving as a delegate please let me know very soon!! We will need to have the delegates confirmed by the PACOE board.

Thank you for your time !
Dan Smeal
PACOE President

NEA Rally Delegate Notes

NEA RALLY NOTES

The Northeast Regional Rally was held in Wareham, MA on May 4th to 6, 2017.

The Rally began Friday, May 5th, with a welcome from Julie Viveiros, MASCOE President. There was a presentation of colors by the Plymouth Post 40 American Legion. The Pledge of Allegiance was next followed by the Invocation from Nancy Miller, MASCOE Vice President and then the Roll Call of States. Pennsylvania had a total of 8 people in attendance.

The Acting SED from MA, Dan Smiarowski, also a District Director addressed the rally and gave some interesting facts on Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Ag Commissioner, John Lebeaux, was able to stop by and give some statistics about the agriculture in MA and the programs utilized and their importance to MA agriculture.

Darren Ash, Chief Information Officer, stated he has been with FSA for 14 months now and addressed the following items that his department is working on: 1) Bandwidth to increase for connectivity. 2) Replacing the MPS 1 leased devices by end of 2018 with Xerox as the new contract. 3) Five states were missed in the last refresh of computers. They are looking to refresh regularly. On some feedback and concerns his response was stuff happens. They are expanding on early awareness of problems. Working on getting notification before offices send Remedy’s. Currently they have in place a notification for CARS that lets them know immediately if the system is down anywhere in the US. The Remedy template for reporting issues has been restructured as of the meeting. The survey was completed by 50% of the employees and received by him with over 2300 pages and 1900 pages were comments. 110 were on Bridges. Thursday they plan to share with the Leadership Team and then to IT and then to everyone else.   The Top four programs that need looked at are WebTA, NRRS, OTIS, Bridges. He is looking at the structure of the IT Department and how to improve. He stated that one time there was a problem and the Secretary of Agriculture asked him if he knew there was a problem and he did not. He doesn’t want that to happen again.

Brad Carmen, Acting Deputy Administrator, gave a few updates. FSA’s role plays biggest part in DC and is on the mind of the new Secretary, Sonny Perdue. The Farm Bill should be completed this year. Congress and House are currently holding hearings now. FSA is Title 1 and preliminary discussions are now going on with Secretary. They want to fix MPP. There were 3 FSA employees awarded the Unsung Hero Awards. For the Fellows program DAFP selected approximately a dozen employees to go to Washington and see what it is all about.

Also in attendance were David Matthews, Assistant to Administrator, just hired and Brent Orr.

Wes Daniels –NASCOE President’s Legislative Update

At this point in time we are all concerned about how this proposed 21% budget cut might affect us and our jobs. We are concerned if there will be cuts in staff, where will these budget cuts be? Wes reminded us that in 2015 Obama’s proposed budget cut $60 million out of staff and expenses. The final budget actually gave us an increase in funding. This difference between a proposed budget and the final budget is just a reminder that we are only in the beginning stages of budget decisions. Hunter Moorehead, our legislative consultant, believes Congress understands that we have a job to do-administer the programs of the Farm Bill.

During the confirmation hearings of the proposed Secretary of Agriculture we heard that he doesn’t agree with all of the proposed budget. This tells us that there will be discussion during the budget process.

An Executive Order gives the Under-Secretary the ability to reduce duplicate services. We do not know what duplicate services would be targeted.

Question & Answer:

Brad Carmen was asked where the money collected from the MPP program went. He stated it went to the treasury. It was suggested to him that the new program they come out with in the new farm bill be named something other than MPP.

Darren: Could IT minimize the different ways you get into different programs. Like adding information manually in each program to just enter in one and it goes to the other.

Darren stated that OCFO manages WebTA and these are vendor problems.

Darren: Did they look at broad band before switching phones? Yes, and they had to look at where local providers go and their strengths.

Darren noted that FSAFarm+ works and that if they have someone who cannot get will need to contact them personally to find the problem.

Level 2 should now be able to be done online and they do not have to visit the office.

ARS training on data load to be explored.

Brent was asked if they have considered adding base acres to farms that do not currently have any. He stated that was up to Congress when the do the new farm bill.

Wes Daniels, gave the following remarks: NASCOE went to DC for negotiations. Notice CP-736 Late filed acreage reports were discussed how it affects us and the producers. They received some waivers by working with DAFP. Helped rewrite the PT Classifications. COC Managed offices = job security. CED’s should be aware that the COC is their boss not the DD. There are 32 negotiating items in DC right now for this year.

Mickey Crider from the Emblem/Scholarship committees discussed:

Changed emblem providers, please visit NASCOE website to view and order Emblems (portion of the proceeds go to the scholarship fund)

Changed scholarships – now 6 categories, reminded us about the Distinguished Service to NASCOE award.

The 2017 NASCOE Scholarships are: Traditional Scholarship; Open Continuing Education Scholarship; Member Continuing Education; Continuing Education for Adult Children of Members; Grandchildren Scholarship; and Associate Member Scholarship. NASCOE would give out $15,750 if all are awarded every year. (Please Find attached Document on Scholarship Categories)

The 2018 NEA Rally will be hosted by Vermont. More information to follow.

Dillard Financial Solutions Inc. representative, John Lohr, gave an update on being able to help you understand the Government Retirement system and your financial plans.

Friday evening we had a banquet, Award/Special Recognition, the nominees for the NASCOE board, and the Scholarship Auction which brought in close to $2,000 for the scholarships at NASCOE and MA.

Respectfully Submitted,

Dodie Yohn and John Stinavage
5/10/2017

NEA Rally Reports

Please read the reports that were presented at the May 2017 NEA Rally.  The Rally was held in Wareham, MA.

Benefits Report

Legislative Report

Membership Report

NAFEC Report

Negotiation Report

Programs Report

Publicity Report

NEA Executive Rick Csutoras wants to send a big thank you to everyone who attended the NEA Rally this weekend:

I really appreciated your patience with our “fluid” agenda 😉  I also want to appreciate and congratulate all the Massachusetts folks who worked so hard to pull this off.  I have already received several compliments on the amazing job you did!!  

I also want to thank all of our area chairs who put these reports together and who work so hard all year round.  NASCOE couldn’t be as successful as we are without folks like you.