Reports from Pre-Negotiation Meeting

The annual pre-negotiation meeting was held in Washington DC on January 14th and 15th. Please see the reports below from President Wes Daniels and Vice President Dennis Ray for a recap of the weekend’s events.

NASCOE held its pre-negotiation meeting in WDC over the Martin Luther King weekend. The purpose of the pre-negotiation meeting is to discuss the topics submitted by NASCOE members from across the nation and assign those topics to the negotiations team. Your Vice President and I arrived in DC on Friday around lunch, and went straight to meet with management on budget and staffing issues.  Dennis and I both appreciate that management has continued to be willing to sit down with us and address your issues and concerns, even in times of transition.

NASCOE’s negotiation process is one of the most important aspects of what the NASCOE Executive Committee and the Area Consultants do for our membership. The NASCOE National Chairs along with Consultants and second year Alternate Area Execs dissected the 32 items that were submitted for negotiations. All of these items will be addressed by NASCOE either through the negotiations process, our legislative process, or through our Programs Committee process. After the items were discussed and reviewed with the Executive Committee, they were assigned to an exec and a consultant if they are going to be sent to management for negotiations. If they were assigned to the programs or legislative committee, those committees will start working them through their processes immediately. A few of the items have already been discussed with management and have been given to the NASCOE President and Vice-President so they can continue to consult with management on your behalf.

Val Dolcini, FSA Administrator, and Greg Diephouse, Deputy Administrator of Field Operations, stopped by on different days to meet with the entire NASCOE negotiation team to give us an update and tell us good-bye. Comments were made about the dedication of the group being there working on a Saturday and Sunday for the betterment of others. They both talked about the value of the work that NASCOE and the other associations do.

Aaron Way from Crowd Compass also gave us a live demo of an event app. This app has a lot of functions including some that could be used during the year outside of our major events to aid in communicating with membership. More information on this will be coming shortly, but one of the functions of the app would allow us to have a moderator for our National Convention Q&A session and have the questions loaded at real time during the session.

We were given a short demo of an acreage reporting tool with geospatial capabilities. We discussed with the software company the need for efficiencies to expedite our task of acreage reporting. We were impressed with several aspects of the tool.

Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE’s Consultant, gave us an update that was covered well in the Legislative Committee report. The Executive Committee approved a bonus for Hunter for all the work he has done for NASCOE. The Executive Committee wanted to make sure that during this transition and the upcoming farm bill that Hunter and Crossroads Strategies were on board. Hunter has continued to work well on our behalf with the Ag Committee and with the Ag Appropriations Committee. Hunter also has helped us build relationships within the department of USDA and within FSA. NASCOE looks forward to continuing to work with Hunter and Crossroads Strategies.

Dillard Financial Solutions gave us their annual report, and the total contribution to NASCOE and its State affiliates was over $130,000.00 plus their printing services and other outside of contractual services they have done for NASCOE. They can help us with our membership drives as well as retirement training. Please contact John Lohr or Teresa Dillard to discuss your state’s needs.

As you can see, it was a busy weekend. I wish everyone had the opportunity to see what your Executive Committee, National Committee Chairs, and Area Consultants do on your behalf. How many government employees work on their own time on Saturday and Sunday for all the rest of us? One of Greg Diephouse’s parting comments was that you have to appreciate the dedication and passion of government employees that, on their own time, work to make things better for their peers and the agency. I am very proud and honored to be a part of this association, thank you.

Respectfully Submitted by,

Wes Daniels
NASCOE President

Because the 2017 Pre-Negotiation meeting was held in Washington, DC, the team was able to enjoy several unique experiences. In addition to the normal business meeting and review of membership’s submitted items, the negotiation team was privileged to have Administrator Val Dolcini and Deputy Administrator of Field Operations Greg Diephouse stop by on Saturday and Sunday mornings respectively. Neither of these visits could have happened if the meeting had not been held in Washington. The NASCOE executive committee expressed our sincere gratitude to both of these gentlemen for their willingness to engage in meaningful discussions during their tenure on how to better serve our producers and membership. The fact that they gave up part of their holiday weekend to meet with the NASCOE negotiation team should prove their dedication to FSA employees and NASCOE members. We will miss their leadership and wish them well in their next endeavors.

We talk about grass root government when we talk about the County Committee structure and rightfully so. We are the only agency where locally elected farmers and rancher are elected by their peers to administer federal programs. In much the same way, the negotiation process is a grass root effort. Each member and employee has the right to submit items to be considered for negotiation. NASCOE is the only association that has the right to negotiate with management on behalf of County Office employees. As in years past, we received several items that were considered meritorious and will be submitted to management for consideration. It is a huge effort to research, discuss and prepare these items prior to sending them to management. I want to personally thank the entire negotiation team for their willingness to serve. One of the most precious gifts you can give a person is your time and this team gave up their holiday weekend to work on behalf of others. That is what makes NASCOE work and that is what inspires many of us to serve.

If you want to really understand what NASCOE is all about you need to get involved. There were 23 members of the team in Washington, DC this past weekend and those that were new to the process were shocked at what all gets done at these meetings. Friday was a travel day. Saturday was a full day starting at 8:00 a.m. and running close to 5:00 p.m. before adjourning for the day. Sunday was similar with the exception of starting at 8:30 instead of 8:00. These were two days filled with NASCOE business and preparation of the negotiation items. While we were very busy it was a good busy.

Not everyone can be a member of the negotiation team but if you are asked I recommend you say yes. However, there are many ways for you to get involved at the various levels of our association and I encourage you to seek out opportunities to serve. Many of the leaders, from the National President; National Committee Chairs; Area Executives and State Presidents keep a list of people that are interested in serving. If you want to get involved but haven’t been asked yet please let someone know what interests you. As with many volunteer associations it is easy to fall into the habit of asking the same people to work on various tasks. That may be the easy way but may not always be the best thing to do. It is important to get fresh ideas and viewpoints as we work on the important issues going forward.

As we go forward from this weekend, the items will be submitted to management for their consideration and response. If NASCOE agrees with the response then that will complete the process. Those items that are not agreed upon will be further negotiated at our formal negotiation meeting this spring. That date has not been finalized yet with the transition taking place but is being discussed. We look forward to completing this important task on behalf of membership.

In addition to working on the negotiation items, conducting NASCOE business and getting to visit one last time with Val and Greg, the pre-negotiation meeting also accomplished a couple of other things for me. First, it reinforced the value in building relationships. Not only relationships with management but with our fellow members. If you pay any attention at all you will quickly realize that we are one big family and family takes care of each other.

Secondly, seeing the dedication and sacrifice the negotiation team made to be there on a holiday weekend reminded me of why I got involved in the first place. I am here because of the example of service that current and previous leaders have set and believing that it was my turn to help carry the load for a while. If you would have told me seven years ago that I would be in the second year of serving as NASCOE Vice President and preparing to run for President I would have thought you were crazy, but that is exactly where I find myself. It takes all of us working together for the common good for NASCOE to be successful. NASCOE has prospered in the past few years and working together as a team we can continue to flourish.

I encourage you all to attend and participate in your state conventions, area rallies and would especially like to invite you to my home state of Missouri for the National Convention this August. These are good opportunities to start meeting your NASCOE family and seeing firsthand the work that takes place on behalf of membership. It also provides you the chance to seek opportunities to serve if you want to get more involved. I look forward to seeing you all as I travel to the rallies and conventions. Please feel free to contact me if I can ever be of help.

Respectfully Submitted,

Dennis Ray
NASCOE Vice President