PACOE President Dan Smeal encourages you to follow updates on the proposed 2018 federal budget as things develop in the next several weeks and months. NASCOE has been sending out updates to members who have signed up for emails. This information is not going to be posted to the websites. If you are a member and you are not getting such emails, please contact your PACOE representative to see about getting added to the email list.
NEA Executive Rick Csutoras has shared a legislative outreach packet with state presidents. The information in the packet is shared here:
Good Evening NEA Presidents,
Many of you have heard that the President released his blueprint for the 2018 budget this morning. Among many other things, this plan called for the reduction of staffing in USDA Service Centers. There are two important things I want you to be aware of:
First, Don’t Panic. This is very early in the budget process. President’s budget proposals rarely resemble the final budgets that get passed. We’ve already seen responses from the heads of the agricultural committees indicating they will be making adjustments. If you haven’t already done so, take a few minutes to review the statement from Hunter that was sent to all membership this morning. I included it below in case you didn’t haven’t seen it.
Second, this is a great reminder of how important it is to reach out to our legislators and explain who we are and what we do. Budget cuts are a very real possibility, but we need to continue to share how agriculture in general and FSA in specific has already shouldered reductions.
NASCOE has put together a package to help you and your membership outreach to local legislators. I urge you to use these tools and work with your state legislative chairs and our NEA Legislative Chair, Larry Parker, to share our mission and the vital work we do here at FSA for our farmers and ranchers. Education is the key, because I firmly believe that anybody who understands how much we do with the limited resources we have will want to support us.
Time is of the essence. If possible, please start this immediately with a goal of having made significant progress by April 4th. This is when NASCOE will be in Washington DC and be in a position to follow up on the groundwork that you began to lay.
Unfortunately I will be out of the country for the next couple of weeks and unavailable to reply to any concerns or questions you may have. However, I’m confident that Larry will be a great resource for you in my stead.
Thank you in advance!
NASCOE NE Area Executive
At the 2016 NASCOE Leadership/Legislative Conference in Washington DC, nearly every state sent members who received training on the importance of congressional outreach and information that can be used to conduct stakeholder outreach. In addition, attendees put their training into practice with congressional visits on the Hill. Following the 2016 elections, there have been many congressional changes which create new opportunities to build relationships on the local level and build our grassroots coalitions in preparation of transitioning to the new agenda of our current administration. Our legislative initiatives will be designed to be proactive, rather than reactive, and will be designed with a futuristic vision.
In the Midwest Area, Area Executive Chris Hare began a program to put that exact process into action. The NASCOE President has directed the Legislative Co-Chairs to expand this program nationwide through the Executive Committee.
Below is an action plan that each area executive should implement and share within his/her respective area. The only way this plan will be successful is if each area takes ownership of responsibility and follows through. We must inform and engage our members at the grassroots level. This initiative will take every level of leadership, with state presidents and state legislative chairpersons being key players at the local level of accountability. The National Legislative Co-Chairs will be monitoring this process and giving regular and frequent updates to the NASCOE President and Vice-President. This is a very important initiative and we are committed to seeing it through. We simply cannot wait until we are facing a legislative crisis to start building our coalitions. Again, our focus is to be proactive; not reactive.
Plan of Action
(action required by national legislative chairs, area executives, state presidents and state legislative chairs):
Step 1: The Legislative Co-Chairpersons will send a legislative coalition project package to all area executives. This package will contain: 1) cover letter, 2) data collection spreadsheet for each state (completion instructions provided on each spreadsheet), 3) NASCOE introduction white paper, and 4) business card template.
Step 2: The area executive will then forward the packages to each of the states in his/her respective areas. Each area executive will follow up with the state president and state legislative chairperson to make sure the packages were received.
Step 3: State presidents and state legislative chairpersons will review and verify the congressional office holder listing and update if necessary. After verifying the state listing, the state president and state legislative chairperson will make assignments to complete the contact information on the spreadsheet, identify any key agriculture/appropriations committee assignments, determine office contact (staffer) for agriculture-related issues, and identify (provide name and contact information) any NASCOE or County Committee person who has a direct relationship with the congressional member or staffer.
Step 4: The persons assigned these tasks will complete the spreadsheet, make a personal contact with the congressional office (personal visit is preferred, but telephone call at the minimum) to gather further contact information, deliver the cover letter, NASCOE introduction white paper, and a business card from the NASCOE member.
Step 5: The assigned member will then report to the state president and state legislative chairperson who will be responsible for completing the state’s spreadsheet information and submitting the state’s response to the area executive.
(action required by area executives, national legislative chairperson(s), and area legislative chairpersons)
When the area database is complete, the states have made personal contacts (either by personal visit or telephone call), and delivered the printed materials (either in person, by mail, or by email), the area executive will submit the completed area spreadsheet to his/her area legislative chairperson and the national legislative chairperson(s). Area executives should not submit individual state spreadsheets. Rather, the area executive should compile all the state responses into the area spreadsheet and send only the completed area spreadsheet.
The national and area legislative committee chairpersons will file this information so that it is readily accessible when needed. On an annual basis, or as requested, the area legislative chairpersons will distribute this database to state presidents and state legislative chairpersons to review and update any congressional changes, local office changes, and NASCOE member contact changes. To ensure maintenance accountability, the legislative committee will routinely discuss each areas participation in maintaining the database on the committee’s monthly conference call.
(action required by area executives, area legislative chairpersons, NASCOE President, and national legislative chairperson(s))
Each area executive and area legislative chairperson should report the results to the NASCOE President and legislative co-chairpersons who will forward any outstanding issues or pertinent information to NASCOE’s legislative consultant, as necessary. Additionally, the area executive shall identify any problems with obtaining information necessary to complete and maintain the spreadsheet. This process should be repeated on an annual basis, or as-needed when specific legislative activities require such.
NASCOE Legislative Chairperson(s):
Provide an official and uniform spreadsheet template to collect the database information.
Provide the white paper and template for a personal letter that can be sent along with the white paper.
During monthly legislative team conference calls, discuss database progress, maintenance and accountability.
Follow up with NASCOE president, vice-President, and area executives on the progress.
Forward outstanding issues or pertinent information to NASCOE legislative consultant.
Ensure each state submits the requested information timely.
Follow up as necessary.
Ensure area legislative chairpersons are keeping the spreadsheet updated.
Hold states accountable for following through with their responsibilities.
Delegate none, part of, or all of this process to alternate area executive to allow them to build relationships with state leaders and gain experience delegating and following up on issues. Even if delegated, the area executive will maintain accountability for this process.
Lead by example. If you are not getting support within a state, find a past leader of the state willing to assist with the process. Take ownership and require accountability from states within your area.
Follow up when you are not getting results. This process utilizes area executives rather than area legislative chairpersons to ensure accountability.
State President and State Legislative Chairperson:
Assign members, directors, or officers within congressional districts to gather information for database template and make it a priority to build grassroots personal relationships with members of congress and key staffers that deal with agricultural and/or appropriations issues.
Ensure all contact information is collected and forwarded to the area executive as quickly as possible.
Ensure all local congressional offices are visited by a NASCOE member. If this is not possible, the next option is to contact the office by personal telephone call and ask to speak with the member, or staffer assigned agricultural issues, and provide the contact with a general and brief overview of NASCOE. It will be important to follow up office visits and telephone calls by mailing a copy of the white paper along with a personalized letter of appreciation for visit or telephone conversation. During the visit or telephone call, the member’s or staffer’s contact information should be collected.
Follow up when changes occur within your state.
Complete this process on an annual basis.
Lead by example! If you are not getting support within your state, take charge of the process and train your state legislative chairperson to own this process. Find past state leaders who are willing to assist with in your state. Be determined to make this initiative work.
Legislative Area Chairperson:
Update and maintain the database.
Follow up with states as needed.
Ensure that your area executive and national legislative co-chairpersons are cc’d on all communications.
If area executives are not holding their states accountable for completing, updating, and maintaining the database, or building local coalitions, report deficiencies to the national legislative co-chairpersons who will direct these issues to the NASCOE President.