Legislative Call Notes

Hey Gang,

Here are the 12/10/13 NASCOE leg notes. The meeting started with an update from NAFEC Committee Chairperson, Kevin Dale.  NAFEC is hosting a call to promote new membership in the Northeast Area on January 17th. Greg Hudson, NEA NAFEC chair will update us with the time at a different date.  NAFEC prearranged to have these call after January 1 but before ballot counting.

We will update you more as we receive new information.

Meeting with the SED

Hey gang!

As hopefully everyone knows, PACOE met with the SED to discuss his proposed Farm Program Delivery Plan.

My notes for the meeting can be found here: PACOE Meeting with STC.

Please take a look at them and forward any comments you may have!

We also had the opportunity to meet with the USDA’s Assistant Secretary of Administration who spoke with us while we were visiting STO.  These notes are here: Remarks by Gregory Parham.

Again, please provide any feedback you feel would be helpful!


Shut Down Communication

Hey Gang,

Hopefully everyone has been getting all the emails that Kelly has been sending out over the last 14-15 days of shut down.  If you haven’t please let us know and we’ll make sure you are on the list.  NASCOE and PACOE have been working hard to make sure we are all as informed as possible while furloughed.  FSA leadership has even reached out to NASCOE to share important updates while they are unable to directly communicate with us.  Since most of this information is changing and time sensitive, I have relied on Kelly to send it out to the email list instead of posting it here on the website.  However, I thought I would put up a post with several of the email correspondence to date in case anyone needed to review it.

A Letter from NASCOE’s President Sent 10-7
Action Alert_ H.R Sent 10-10
Fw_ Legislative Call today Sent 10-7
Fwd_ Farm Bill Process Moves Forward With House Conferee Appointments Sent 10-12
LEG Call Notes Sent 10-7
Legislative Update from Saturday Sent 9-30
More Legislative Updates Sent 9-30
NASCOE Now Sent 10-10
PP 19 Pays Sent 10-14
Re Shutdown latest Sent 10-1
Upcoming pay period Sent 10-12
Update Status Regarding Unemployment Sent 10-3

There have also been many, many emails between your legislative team, Area Execs, and individual members.  Hopefully this shut down is nearing an end, but until it’s over we will continue to work hard to try and share as much as we know with all of you.

Thanks for being a member!


PACOE ’13-’14 Election Results

Hey gang,

Members recently voted for who they wanted to represent them on PACOE’s Executive Board.  I’m pleased to announce that Dave has tabulated the votes and we can announce the following representatives:

Area 1
Ed Huston
Dolly Little
John Lohr
Dave Stratton

Area 2
Michele Engel
Kelly Sundy
Jason Pontillo
Trystan Corliss

Area 3
Sharon Weigle
Dodie Garman
Richard Csutoras
Dan Smeal

Congratulations Board members!  We will shortly be having a conference call to elect our officers for the new term.  Feel free to contact your Area Executives to express your opinion on PACOE’s leadership.


A Message from Dan

Hello Once again!!

As it’s getting to the busy time of year, I’m going to just jump right in.  The latest NASCOE NOW is available and has been posted here: May2013NOWnew. Please take a few minutes to check out all the valuable information it contains.   Next, for those of you who may have missed it, the NASCOE National Convention is coming soon!  It will be a fun and informative time and I encourage anyone and everyone to attend.  If you already know you are attending, please be sure to send in your registration if you haven’t done so.  As a heads up, this is the closest the National Convention has been to our State in quite some time and it appears it will not be any closer anytime soon.  This is an opportunity not to pass up.  Additionally, there will be 6 hours of Administrative Leave granted to all those who attend the National Convention!

As you all know, Pennsylvania was host to the NASCOE NEA rally this year.  It was held at the Hidden Valley Resort in Somerset, PA.  We had Mike Schmidt from DAFP speak to the group, along with PA SED Bill Whery. Members were able to raise questions and voice concerns while they were there.  We also had a hypnotist for the entertainment which was a great time. Right after the hypnotist we held the Scholarship Auction to benefit the NASCOE Scholarship Auction.  The Scholarship Auction brought in over $1,300 dollars!!  My thanks to all the folks that worked hard to put this rally together and to everyone who took the time to attend.  Pictures from the Rally will be posted to the website soon!

Thank you for all you do!!

Dan Smeal
PACOE President

A message to PACOE members from NASCOE Pres John Lohr

TO: My fellow PACOE members
On Saturday May 4 Pennsylvania FSA county office employees will have a rare opportunity to meet national-level officials from both FSA and NASCOE at the northeast area rally at Hidden Valley in beautiful Somerset county.
Area NASOCE rallies are only hosted by a state about every 10 years.
In addition to representation from our state office, from WDC we expect the Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs Mike Schmidt to be in attendance. NASCOE will also be well represented by Kevin Dale, NASCOE NAFEC Committee Chair, Wes Daniels, NASCOE Southeast Area Exec and VP candidate, Dan Smeal, and myself.
If you can’t stay the weekend, at least consider attending to hear the presentations and Q & A on Saturday morning.
Hope to see you there.

Upcoming Exec Committee Conference Call

In order to keep the momentum from our Annual meeting going, the Executive Committee is planning on having a Conference Call next week (tentatively Thursday, 12/20).  The primary topic on the Agenda is the upcoming NEA Rally in May.

We want to encourage everyone to let us know if you have new or exciting ideas to share about the rally.  Also get in touch with us if you have any other items you would like the committee to address.  Feel free to either register/post below, contact Dan or myself directly, or touch base with your area representative.

We look forward to hearing from you!

SED Q&A from our annual meeting

SED Question and Answer Session

PACOE Annual Meeting 11/10/2012

 Prior to the question and answer session, SED Bill Wehry introduced himself and noted that all State Committee members had agreed to continue to serve on the STC.  Mr. Wehry noted the budget constraints that the country, agency, and state were experiencing.  Since he came into office, the staffing levels have dropped from 228 employees to 203.  The budget in 2012 contains similar funding levels to 2006.  Figuring out how to work in this budget uncertainty is one of the biggest challenge facing all of us.  However, we are servicing the producers.  In the years from 2009-2011, Pennsylvania has made 429 million dollars in payments, including FLP.

Q:  District meetings are still important in many different ways.  Are we generally going to be able/allowed to have them as we move forward?

A:  SED Wehry left the decision to have district meetings up to individual DDs.  The guidance given was that there should be a reason/need for a meeting.  Not to just have a meeting to have one.

Q:  Is the STO getting any specific budget information from OMB?

A:  No allotments have been received in the STO yet.  SED Wehry was instructed to operate at last year’s level.  Nobody knows what the possible sequestration will do to our budget this FY.

Q:  Have you heard anything about further office closings?

A:  SED Wehry has not heard anything about them.  The previous round of closings was a result of a 2 billion dollar cut in USDA funding.

Q:  Have you heard anything about using program dollars for implementing the programs, similar to NRCS?

A:  SED Wehry has not heard anything along those lines.

Q:  Can you explain what happened this last year with all the extra money in FY2012?

A:  SED Wehry found some unused money in accounts that weren’t used, such as travel, that was able to be utilized for other purposes.  This did include a little bit of salary that hadn’t been spent.

Q:  Where are we at in the leasing situation throughout the state?

A:  Bill recognized that we were in need of outside help and asked DC for it at the last SED meeting.  They committed to putting a “jump” team in PA, but that was stalled by office closures and never really happened.  The SFAC has sent a letter to NFAC regarding the issue and SED Wehry feels confident that some assistance is coming soon.

Q:  Is the STO replacing the budget admin person that left?

A:  A tentative offer has been made to a veteran who is currently serving in Afghanistan to serve as the budget/leasing person in the STO.

Q:  Are we going to be allowed to utilize any temps or permanent part-time staff?  What is the status of the staffing plan?

A:  We won’t know about staffing until we know what the budget is going to be.  We received about $250k for COC and FA’s last year, but that doesn’t go too far.  So the decision was made that we couldn’t afford temporary help.  SED Wehry is very open to permanent part-time positions.  The staffing guide has been helpful and beneficial for making decisions.  SED Wehry will continue to use it in some shape or form.  He wants to address staffing issues without directed reassignment.  He is waiting on making any major moves until he knows what the budget is going to be at.

Q:  Does the staffing plan take employee leave into account?

A:  It was discussed, but ultimately a factor was not included for leave.

Q:  Are employees going to be allowed to have some travel flexibility in the upcoming MIDAS training?  i.e. not being required to drive 2 hours each way into and out of Pittsburgh?

A:  The STO is currently working on a cost estimate now.  They don’t know what MIDAS will approve.  They are looking at previous travel policies as the develop the travel plans, however there is a lot in conversation.  They are going to try and take care of the staff when making the plans.




Register for our Annual Meeting!

Hello to all!!

Plans are coming together for the PACOE annual meeting!! As I said before, the meeting will be held in the Somerset, PA at the Hidden Valley Resort. We are planning a meeting the day prior (November 9, 2012) to plan for the NASCOE Northeast Area Rally to be Held on May 3-5, 2013 also at the Hidden Valley Resort. For those of you who wish to be on the Rally Planning Committee and will be attending the PACOE meeting on Saturday, but do not wish to travel home, there is a block of rooms reserved at the resort. The room fee is $104 for the night and the deadline to reserve a room is OCTOBER 25, 2012. Even if you will not be staying overnight and still wish to be on the Rally Planning Committee, please send me an email as well as check the box on the registration form.

I have attached the Registration Form for the State Meeting. Please take the time to fill out and send to Dolly Little. Also, note there is no registration fee for this meeting!!

I look forward to hearing from you!! If you have any questions please let me know.


Dan Smeal

PACOE President