NASCOE News Flash: 2018 Negotiation and All Association Meeting with Management

NASCOE President Dennis Ray

NASCOE President Dennis Ray

The week of April 2-6 was very busy for NASCOE leadership and the NASCOE negotiation team. We traveled to Washington DC to participate in the 2018 All Association Meeting and to conduct NASCOE’s annual negotiation meeting with management. Those traveling included officers Dennis Ray, Brandon Wilson, Curt Houk, Marcinda Kester and Wes Daniels; Area Executives Chris Hare, Rick Csutoras, Jay Goff, Mike Mayfield and Jessi Colgrove; Area Negotiation Consultants Debbie Staley, Tracy Wilson, Sabrina Conditt, Jenae Prescott and Jessica Walls. Also traveling to WDC were National Programs Chair Michelle Stahl and National Legislative Chair Donny Green.

Monday was a travel day for most of the team however Brandon and I traveled in on Sunday in preparation for Monday meetings with some key members of management. Brandon and I began by meeting with Acting Administrator Steve Peterson and his chief of staff Kathy Sayers to follow up on some pending issues. We discussed staffing numbers and the critical need to hire. We then met with Undersecretary Northey and discussed that our ability to provide the service as mandated is being severely hampered in some parts of the country due to the low staffing numbers. Both the acting Administrator and the Undersecretary expressed optimism that another round of hiring would be coming soon, possible within a few weeks. FSA has been developing a workload and staffing tool that NASCOE has been involved with for the past two years. The ability to use the tool to help determine where staffing needs are, and the passing of the Omnibus spending package should help assure the decision makers that FSA can effectively determine the staffing level needed and the locations where they are needed most.

Tuesday the NASCOE negotiation team held a meeting at our hotel to make a final review of our negotiation items and to prepare for presenting our positions to management. This year, NASCOE submitted 11 new items for consideration and revisited items from previous years that were still pending. Negotiating County Office concerns with management is one of our main purposes as an association. Also, it is important to point out that NASCOE is the only organization that can negotiate with management on behalf of county office employees.

Wednesday, April 4th, was the All Association Meeting held in the Jefferson auditorium. All FSA employee associations were invited to attend including National Association of Farmer Elected Committees and the Retired Association of ASCS/FSA Office Employees. Among the presenters were Acting FSA Administrator Steve Peterson, Undersecretary Bill Northey, Joy Harwood, Tom Christenson, Kim Graham, Linda Treese and Patrick Spalding and Brad Karmen.

Thursday April 4th was the actual negotiation session with management. One of the carryover items was the Aspiring Leadership Program for PT’s. This item was agreed upon a couple of years ago and development of the program had started but not completed. NASCOE asked the status and was pleased to hear that the program development is nearly completed, and the program will be offered in FY-2019. This program will offer a training program for PT’s who wish to develop their leadership skills. There will be a limited number of participants so be looking for more information as it is released.

Shared management operations are an annual discussion topic at negotiations and it was again this year.  There are changes coming in 27-PM (Rev. 2) that will contain language about the requirements for pre-decisional involvement by the affected county committees and the state association to accompany the request to DAFO when shared management operations are proposed. Management also agreed to begin work on the shared management task force within 60 days of the negotiation session. This has been tabled for the past couple of years, but they have agreed to establish the work group and begin discussions. The negotiation session was mainly positive, and the results of the negotiations will be made public once NASCOE and management can review the wording of the resolutions for accuracy. These will be posted to the website as soon as they are received back from management.

I know that the current staffing level and delays to hiring are a couple of the biggest concerns expressed to NASCOE leadership. We have been pressing as hard as we can to encourage management to add staff to get back to the level of funding enacted by Congress. We bring that up during every conversation at every level where we have the opportunity including at the Secretary, Undersecretary, FPAC and FSA level. We have also expressed staffing concern with the Senate Ag Committee and many members of Congress. Our legislative Consultant and National Legislative Chair made 14 Hill visits last week and discussed staffing levels, customer service, Farm Bill Reauthorization, county office structure and the importance of the county committee.

I would like to thank all the negotiation team and those who traveled to Washington for this meeting for the hard work, dedication and the long hours spent during the trip. It takes a lot of effort beginning in December to be prepared for this type of meeting with management and I want to publicly express my thanks. I would also like to thank Wes Daniels, Past NASCOE President for his service to NASCOE the past seven plus years. Wes has taken a DD position and will be providing his leadership in a new arena going forward. Please thank Wes when you have the opportunity for the years of service to NASCOE.

The actual negotiation session happens once a year, however employees are encouraged to submit items throughout the year via the online submission form. Those items are reviewed periodically to see if they are time critical. If meritorious the item may be escalated for consultation by the President and the Vice President during our trips to Washington, DC.

Respectfully Submitted,

Dennis Ray
NASCOE President

NASCOE Legislative Update: Federal Appropriations for FY18 & Congressional Meetings

NASCOE_LogoTo:                     NASCOE Membership
From:               Hunter Moorhead
Subject:          Federal Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2018 and Congressional Meetings


This memorandum outlines the recent budget agreement for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The two-year budget agreement allowed for finalization of the 2018 bill which runs through September 2018.  The higher spending limits also allowed Congress to end sequestration cuts and add funding to certain programs.  In addition, the second portion of this document details recent Congressional meetings.

The final budget agreement included specific funding for the below policies.

Budget agreement:

FY17 FY18 FY19
Current law defense cap 551 549 562
Cancel defense sequester 54 54
Security priorities 26 31
New defense cap 551 629 647
OCO/emergency 83 71 69
Defense discretionary total 634 700 716
——————————————————– ————- ————- ————-
Current law nondefense cap 519 516 529
Cancel nondefense sequester 37 37
Domestic priorities 26 31
New nondefense cap 519 579 579
OCO 21 12 8
Nondefense discretionary total 539 591 605

Agreement includes:

  • National Institutes of Health – $1B for 2018 and $1B for 2019;
  • Opioids and Mental Health – $3B for 2018 and $3B for 2019;
  • Veterans Administration healthcare backlog – $2B for 2018 and $2B for 2019;
  • Infrastructure – $10B for 2018 and $10B for 2019;
  • Child Care Development Block Grant – $2.9B for 2018 and $2.9B for 2019; and
  • Higher Education – $2B for 2018 and $2B for 2019.

Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations:
On March 23, the Congress approved and President signed the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill.  The agreement was positive for NASCOE and we believe will lead to additional employees.

The bill includes $23.3 billion in discretionary funding, which is $2.1 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. In total, the bill allows for $146 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding – $7.6 billion below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.

The legislation provides $1.70 billion for farm programs, which is $2 million above the fiscal year 2017 level. This funding will continue support for various farm, conservation, and emergency loan programs, and will help American farmers and ranchers. It will also ensure customer service through full staffing of local county Farm Service Agency offices, including additional funding for farm loan officers, and meet estimates of demand for farm loan programs.

FSA Salaries and Expenses:

2017 Enacted 2018 Request Final Bill Final Bill vs 2017 Final Bill vs Request
1,515,720,000 1,428,051,000 1,519,756,000 +  4,036,000 +  91,705,000

The final agreement provides an increase of 22,216,000.  Based on the FPAC reorganization, the Committee transferred $4,944,000 for the Warehouse Act and $13,236,000 for international food procurement to the Agricultural Marketing Service.

  • Please know that certain NASCOE members have requested details about FSA’s salaries and expenses spending levels. The information will be provided soon.

Public Law / Bill Language:

FARM SERVICE AGENCY SALARIES AND EXPENSES
(INCLUDING TRANSFERS OF FUNDS)

For necessary expenses of the Farm Service Agency, $1,202,146,000: Provided, That not more than 50 percent of the $78,013,000 made available under this heading for information technology related to farm program delivery, including the Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agricultural Systems and other farm program delivery systems, may be obligated until the Secretary submits to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress, and receives written or electronic notification of receipt from such Committees of, a plan for expenditure that (1) identifies for each project/investment over $25,000 (a) the functional and performance capabilities to be delivered and the mission benefits to be realized, (b) the estimated lifecycle cost, including estimates for development as well as maintenance and operations, and (c) key milestones to be met; (2) demonstrates that each project/investment is, (a) consistent with the Farm Service Agency Information Technology Roadmap, (b) being managed in accordance with applicable lifecycle management policies and guidance, and (c) subject to the applicable Department’s capital planning and investment control requirements; and (3) has been reviewed by the Government Accountability Office and approved by the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress: Provided further, That the agency shall submit a report by the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2018 to the Committees on Appropriations and the Government Accountability Office, that identifies for each project/ investment that is operational (a) current performance against key

H.R.1625—14 indicators of customer satisfaction, (b) current performance of service level agreements or other technical metrics, (c) current performance against a pre-established cost baseline, (d) a detailed breakdown of current and planned spending on operational enhancements or upgrades, and (e) an assessment of whether the investment continues to meet business needs as intended as well as alternatives to the investment: Provided further, That the Secretary is authorized to use the services, facilities, and authorities (but not the funds) of the Commodity Credit Corporation to make program payments for all programs administered by the Agency: Provided further, That other funds made available to the Agency for authorized activities may be advanced to and merged with this account: Provided further, That funds made available to county committees shall remain available until expended: Provided further, That none of the funds available to the Farm Service Agency shall be used to close Farm Service Agency county offices: Provided further, That none of the funds available to the Farm Service Agency shall be used to permanently relocate county based employees that would result in an office with two or fewer employees without prior notification and approval of the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress.

House Report language:
The Committee does not: 1) provide the one-time FY 2017 increases of $6,000,000 (this language was included in the House language but was not part of the final budget agreement); 2) accept reductions in non-federal full time employees (FTE); 3) accept savings from farm program modernization; and 4) accept any reduction in FTE for international commodity operations and food aid programs including Food for Peace Title II and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program.

The Committee does: (1) accept savings from FTE attrition; (2) provide funding for CCC audit readiness; (3) accept savings from federal and non-federal operating expenses; (4) direct farm program modernization savings to be used for other IT purposes proposed and as determined by the Secretary; and (5) accept IT operation maintenance and imaging savings.

CLEAR Initiative.—The Committee is encouraged by FSA’s announcement of the new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) initiative, the Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers (CLEAR) initiative, which creates a funding mechanism for the installation of saturated buffers and denitrifying bioreactors (NRCS Standard Codes 604 and 605, respectively) into CRP buffers (CP 21 & CP 22). The CLEAR announcement established policy to incentivize and allow the installation of bioreactors into new, existing, and re-enrolled CRP buffers. However, saturated buffers were only allowed in new and re-enrolled CRP buffers. The Committee understands this has limited the ability of stakeholders to install saturated buffers into CRP without penalty. The Committee recommends FSA look into changing the CLEAR guidelines to allow the installation of saturated buffers in new, re-enrolled and existing CRP contracts to allow FSA cost-shared installation of saturated buffers, and to examine allowing for installation of saturated buffers through non- federal programs and initiatives without penalty to landowners.

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP).—The Committee encourages USDA to continue providing updates of funding needs for ECP, especially in the aftermath of drought, wildfires, and other natural disasters. The Committee encourages FSA to be flexible in meeting new challenges as it was during recent wildfire outbreaks when it allowed grazing on CRP lands.

Senate Report language:
Deputy Under Secretary for Conservation.—The Committee recognizes that NRCS, FSA, and RMA each play an important role in helping farmers, ranchers, and foresters manage risk and build the resilience of their operations. Additionally, better coordination and data sharing between the three agencies can limit inefficiencies, improve conservation outcomes, and enhance USDA’s ability to serve its customers. The Committee therefore encourages the Secretary to establish a Deputy Under Secretary for Conservation under the Farm Production and Conservation Mission Area to facilitate such coordination and ensure that each of the three agencies is supporting the conservation objectives of the producers that they serve.

Emergency Response.—The Committee directs USDA to produce a report outlining the average and longest length of time it takes USDA to provide reimbursement under the following emergency assistance programs: crop insurance; Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program [NAP]; Livestock Indemnity Program [LIP]; Livestock Forage Disaster Program [LFP]; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program [ELAP]; Tree Assistance Program [TAP]; Emergency Conservation Program; and Emergency Forest Restoration Program [EFRP]. USDA is also directed to include in the report any barriers to implementing a more efficient reimbursement process and recommendations to the Committee on potential improvements.

Continuous Conservation Reserve Program.—The Secretary is strongly encouraged to, within the total acreage made available for enrollment in the conservation reserve program and without reducing the periodic availability of general signup, enroll, to the maximum extent practicable, acreage for activities included in the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement practice or other similar administratively established wetland and habitat practices that benefit priority fish and wildlife species identified in State, regional, and national conservation initiatives with a priority for initiatives that provide large blocks of cover ideal for wildlife nesting.

Information Technology.—The Committee remains dedicated to ensuring FSA has reliable and functioning IT systems because it is critical that farmers and ranchers have access to the tools they need to succeed. The Committee has invested significant taxpayer dollars to modernize outdated systems and continues to provide resources above the budget request. The Committee continues statutory language that allows funds for IT to be obligated only after the Secretary meets certain reporting requirements. The Committee has reviewed the third-party IT analysis and expects the agency to follow the recommendations where applicable.

National Agriculture Imagery Program.—The Committee recommends that funding shall be allocated to purchase imagery products to meet programmatic requirements.

Congressional advocacy efforts:
Donny Green, NASCOE Legislative Chairperson, and Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant, recently spent two days on Capitol Hill raising the importance of additional county office staff and rebuilding our footprint.  According to FSA’s Leadership, the agency lost over 150 employees between October 1 and December 23, 2017.  The current county office staffing level is unacceptable and hiring new employees is our top priority.

We met with the following offices;

Senator Thune – R-SD                Senator Gillibrand – D-NY            Senator Daines – R-MT
Senator Klobuchar – D-MN    Senator Heitkamp – D-ND            Senator Donnelly – D-ID
Senator Fischer – R-NE             Senator Smith – D-MN                     Senator Perdue – R-GA
Senator Hoeven – R-ND            Senator Casey – D-PA                     Senator Grassley – R-IA
Senator Boozman – R-AR         Senator Bennet – D-CO
Senate Ag Committee Staff – Majority         Senate Ag Committee Staff – Minority

Donny spoke about the below staffing numbers and the agency’s inability to service customers.

Years Total CO Total GS Total
17-18 Totals 6785 1745 8530
16-17 Totals 7104 1838 8942
15-16 totals 7180 1639 8819
14-15 totals 7145 1586 8731
13-14 totals 6944 1724 8668
12-13 totals 7484 1625 9109
11-12 totals 7678 1621 9299
10-11 totals 8636 1863 8636
09-10 totals 8661.5 1934 10595.5
08-09 totals 8651 1908 10559
07-08 totals 8637 1866 10503
06-07 totals 8647 1820 10467
05-06 totals 8823 1854 10677
04-05 totals 9209 1860 11069
03-04 totals 9329 2110 11439

Passed and Signed! Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 was passed by the House Thursday and by the Senate on Friday. The President signed the Bill this afternoon (3/23/18).

We are happy to report that passage of this Bill funds government operations through Sept. 30, 2018.

The entire Bill is 2,232 pages and we are currently reviewing it. As we learn more, we will be providing further updates.

Have a good weekend!

Donny Green & Jackson Jones
NASCOE Legislative Co-Chairpersons

NASCOE News Flash: Legislative Update – 03-21-2018

NASCOE President Dennis Ray Photo and Contact InformationNASCOE will be heading to Washington DC the first week of April to conduct our annual negotiation session. The negotiation team has been preparing to present and negotiate the items submitted by membership. For those unfamiliar, suggestions on how to improve efficiency, improve working conditions or improve service to our producers are submitted by membership through the online submission form located on the NASCOE webpage. Those suggestions are vetted and then sent to management for consideration. The negotiations team which is comprised of the officers, the area execs and area negotiation consultants, then meet face to face with management to negotiate the item. To ensure equal representation from the areas, negotiation consultants must be a PT if the area exec is a CED and vice versa. All members are encouraged to participate in the negotiation process by submitting items for review.

NASCOE has received a few questions regarding the comment during the town hall regarding the one to ten ratio for supervisors and employees. This has been the standard touted by OPM for the federal workforce for the past several years. It is important to keep in mind the goal is to average one supervisor for every ten employees across the agency, not that every supervisor must have ten employees. It is very likely you will see this standard used while standing up the business center and in areas of the mission area where possible. NASCOE will continue to monitor this and other areas of concern as we move forward.

In addition to the negotiating with management, NASCOE will also participate in an all association meeting on Wednesday, April 4th. We will have the opportunity to see and visit with leaders from the agency, department and FPAC. This will give us the opportunity to follow up on some of the information that was provided in the recent town hall meeting. An update will be provided to the membership soon after the meetings.

The following is a legislative report from our consultant Hunter Moorhead.

“All – I hope this note finds you well. I want to update NASCOE’s membership on two important legislative initiatives, the omnibus appropriations measure and Farm Bill. The current continuing resolution is set to expire on March 23. We expect the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will soon wrap-up negotiations and meet the current deadline. This legislation will fund the government through fiscal year 2018. The Congress recently agreed to new spending limitations (caps) that should allow for adequate FSA salaries and expenses funding. We continue to urge Secretary Perdue to make available any additional funds for hiring county office staff. When finalized, we will share information about the final package.

“The other important legislative issue is reauthorization of the 2014 Farm Bill. While I expected the House Agriculture Committee this week to release draft legislative language, our contacts tell us it will likely be the middle of April. A group of Democratic House members have raised concerns with any effort to limit Food Stamp benefits. The other challenge for Chairman Michael Conaway is securing House floor debate time. On the Senate side, the negotiations are slowly moving forward, and any draft bill will follow action by the House of Representatives. We will continue to monitor the Farm Bill process and share any legislative information.”

NASCOE News Flash: Shutdown Update from President Dennis Ray

NASCOE President Dennis RayAs you are all aware by now, Congress has failed to pass a budget or continuing resolution and federal funding has lapsed. While we are hopeful that this can be resolved sooner rather than later, at this point we are not certain how long the shutdown may last. The NASCOE political consultant has been closely monitoring the situation and providing updates as they became available. Congress is expected to resume negotiations today in an attempt to reach agreement.

If the funding lapse continues we know that we will go into work Monday morning to begin the shutdown process. Employees will also have to finish loading time and attendance if they couldn’t complete it prior to Web-TA crashing. Employees can also load their time and attendance from home using their eAuth login and personal computer. According to the FAQ’s provided in the OSEC email received late yesterday afternoon, PP 1 direct deposits are scheduled to be processed as normal.

Secretary Perdue tweeted the following information earlier today.

As new information becomes available, NASCOE will be using various communications methods to inform membership. These include the NASCOE national database, updates to the NASCOE webpage and normal email distribution through the NASCOE Area Execs to State Association Presidents.

NASCOE established its database several year ago to be able communicate with membership in times such as these. If you provided your email address at that time and it has not changed you should be receiving database updates already and do not need to sign up now. If you did not enroll in the database at that time you can go to this link and enroll now. Please share this link with our co- workers.

Members can also receive email updates any time the NASCOE webpage is updated by subscribing to the follow button. It is located on the home page at https://nascoe.org/ and only requires providing your email address and clicking on the follow button. Additionally, we will use our normal email distribution lists. If you are not currently receiving information by one of these various methods, I would encourage you to begin now.

Hopefully the Congress will find a way to agree on funding the government before it drags out too long. In the mean time we will keep monitoring the situation and provide any information we can.

Sincerely,

Dennis Ray
NASCOE President

CR Update: January 16, 2018

Below is an update from Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant.

Donny Green & Jackson Jones
NASCOE Legislative Co-Chairs


The House has introduced the attached continuing resolution funding the government through February 16. The House Rules Committee will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) at 3:00 p.m. 

Lifted from House Appropriations Committee:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen today introduced legislation (H.J.Res 125) to maintain current funding for federal operations and prevent a government shutdown. The Continuing Resolution (CR) is a stop-gap measure that will extend government funding through February 16, 2018. In absence of this legislation, existing funding would run out on January 19, 2018.
 
In addition to continuing government funding, the bill includes language to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years, a provision that allows the Department of Defense to provide funding for “Missile Defeat and Defense Enhancements” activities, and extensions of several health care related tax provisions.

HR195

Secretary Perdue Announces State Committee Appointments 

Washington, D.C., January 4, 2018 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a slate of Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Committee Appointees. State committees are selected by the Secretary, serve at the pleasure of the Secretary, and are responsible for carrying out FSA’s farm programs within delegated authorities.

“The State Committees will help to ensure USDA is providing our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and agricultural producers with the best customer service,” Secretary Perdue said. “They serve as a liaison between USDA and the producers in each state across the nation by keeping them informed and hearing their appeals and complaints. The committees are made up mostly of active farmers and ranchers, representing their peers and ensuring USDA’s programs are supporting the American harvest.”

The following is a list of State Committees released today:

Alabama

Committee Chair Monica Carroll – Ozark

Andy Lavender – Brundidge

Rodney Moon – Harvest

Steve Penry – Daphne

Doug Trantham – Alexandria

Alaska

Committee Chair Scott Mugrage – Delta Junction

Joe Orsi – Juneau

Richelle Plummer – Matanuska Valley

Al Poindexter – Kenai Peninsula

Arizona

Committee Chair Pamela Griffin – Globe

Andy Grosetta – Prescott

Steven Killian – Phoenix

David Lamoreaux – Gilbert

Lyndon Smith – Gilbert

Arkansas

Committee Chair Ron Chastain – Faulkner County

Gary Churchill – Pope County

Sarah Dunklin – Desha County

Nathan Reed – Lee County

Vivien Wright – Sevier County

California

Committee Chair Greg Wegis – Buttonwillow/Bakersfield

Blake Alexandre – Crescent City

Thomas J. Butler – Woodland

Joe Egan – Susanville

Colorado

Committee Chair Jo Stanko – Steamboat

Glenn Hirakata – Rocky Ford

Robert Mattive – San Luis Valley

Alex Rock – Wray

Nathan Weathers – North Yuma County

Connecticut

Committee Chair Bonnie Burr – Storrs

Melissa Greenbacker-Dziurgot – Middlesex County

Bruce Gresczyk – New Hartford

Diane Karabin – Southington

Mark Sellew – Lebanon

Delaware

Committee Chair Richard Bergold – Dover

Jay Baxter – Georgetown

Donnie Collins – Millsboro

Lori Ockels – Milton

Florida

Committee Chair Michelle Williamson – Dover

Mike Adams – Jennings

Mack Glass – Marianna

Mark Sodders – North Palm Beach

Georgia

Committee Chair Allen Poole – Haralson County

L.G. (Bo) Herndon, Jr. – Vidalia

Meredith McNair Rogers – Camilla

Donnie Smith – Willacoochee

Hawaii

Committee Chair Teena Marie Rasmussen – Kula

Wilson Kenzo Koike – Waianae

Glenn Martinez – Waimanalo

Boyd J. Ready – Haleiwa

Simon Russel – Makawao

Idaho

Committee Chair Mike Guerry – Castleford

Joe Anderson – Potlach

Kaitlin Davis – Cascade

Matt Gellings – Idaho Falls

Randy Hardy – Oakley

Illinois

Committee Chair Jim Reed – DeLand

Martin R. Barbre – Carmi

Melanie DeSutter – Woodhull

Ron Moore – Roseville

Troy Uphoff – Findlay

Indiana

Committee Chair Ken Rulon – Arcadia

Kim Ames – Fillmore

Bill Gelfius – Hartsville

Clint Orr – Forest

Kirk Perkins – Wolcottville

Iowa

Committee Chair Ray Gaesser – Corning

Nathan Anderson – Cherokee

Laura Cunningham – Nora Springs

Jim Stillman – Palo Alto

Pat Swanson – Ottumwa

Kansas

Committee Chair Garrett Love – Gray County

Lexy Goyer – Cowley County

Nick Gutterman – Miami/Johnson County

Michael Jordan – Mitchell County

Greg McCurry – Sedgwick County

Kentucky

Committee Chair Sharon Furches – Calloway County

Tom Flowers – Shelby County

Kenny Imel – Greenup County

Brenda Paul – Paris

Bart Peters – Cadiz

Louisiana

Committee Chair Ray Young – Wisner

Julie Baker-Richard – Abbeville

John Earles, II – Bunkie

Emery Jones – Natchez

Donna Winters – Lake Providence

Maine

Committee Chair Sue McCrum – Belfast

Gregg Garrison – Blaine

Heath Miller – Newburgh

Nancy Ricker – Turner

David Tuttle – North Berwick

Maryland

Committee Chair Jenny Rhodes – Centerville

Steve Ernst – Washington County

Steve Isaacson – Cecil County

Pat Langenfelder – Kennedyville

Massachusetts

Committee Chair Bradford N. Morse – Rochester

James J. Larkin – Sheffield

Matthew J. Parsons – Hadley

Michigan

Committee Chair Sally McConnachie – Deckerville

Blaine Baker – Clayton

Ben Lacross – Lake Leelanau

Matt Schwab – Standish

Isaiah Wunsch – Traverse City

Minnesota

Committee Chair Scott Winslow – Fountain

Kurt Blomgren – Butterfield

Jay Nord – Wolverton

Mike Yost – Murdock

Karolyn Zurn – Callaway

Mississippi

Committee Chair Ted Kendall IV – Bolton

Scott Flowers – Clarksdale

Bobby Moody – Louisville

Henry Reed – Belzoni

Rita Seward – Jackson County

Missouri

Committee Chair Julie Hurst – Atchison

Marc Allison – Dade

Cindy Schroeder – Saline

Will Spargo – Ripley

Barbara Wilson – Audrain

Montana

Committee Chair Carl Mattson – Chester

Joe Dooling – Helena

Chaley Harney – Billings

Bruce Tutvedt – Kalispell

Nebraska

Committee Chair Scott Spilker – Beatrice

Cindi Allen – Ogallala

Mark Jagels – Davenport

Hilary Maricle – Boone County

Geoff Ruth – Rising City

New Hampshire

Committee Chair Kathy Sherman – Conway

Gary LeClair – Claremont

Madison Lowell Hardy – Hollis

Scott Mason – North Stratford

Kirk Scamman – Stratham

New Jersey

Committee Chair Linda DuBois – Pittsgrove

Kurt Alstede – Chester

Sam Conard – Hillsborough

Jim Etsch – Middlesex

New Mexico

Committee Chair Alisa Ogden – Carlsbad

Dustin K. Johnson – Farmington

Matthew L. Lansford – Clovis

John M. Romero – Laguna

New York

Committee Chair Judi Whittaker – Broome County

Michael Bittel – Greenwich

Lawrence Eckhardt – Rensselaer County

Theodore Furber – Wayne County

Barbara Hanselman – Delaware County

North Carolina

Committee Chair Alice Scott – Lucama

Jeffery Lee – Benson

Nathan Ramsey – Fairview

Richard Renegar – Harmony

Jeff Tyson – Nashville

North Dakota

Committee Chair Jim Hauge – Mandan

Jared Hagert – Emerado

Erika Kenner – Leeds

Edward Kessel – Dickinson

Barton Schott – Kulm

Ohio

Committee Chair Trish Levering – Knox County

Ronnie Clifton – Pickaway County

Kim Davis – Carroll County

Daryl Knipp – Sandusky County

Joe Steiner – Warren County

Oklahoma

Committee Chair Gary Crawley – McCallister

Sarah Dorsey – Bixby

Karen Eifert Jones – Stillwater/Waukomis

Don Allen Parson – McCurtain County

Oregon

Committee Chair Anna Sullivan – Baker County

Sam Asai – Hood River

TJ Hansell – Hermiston

John Phillip (Phil) Hassinger – Cove

Pennsylvania

Committee Chair Bonnie Wenger – Lebanon

George Greig – Linesville

Doug Graybill – Granville Summit

Bill Hoover – Tyrone

Rhode Island

Committee Chair Doreen Pezza – Providence County

Judy Carvalho – Newport County

Christopher Jaswell – Providence County

Ellen Pucetti – Providence County

South Carolina

Committee Chair Tony Grant – Columbia

Bob Battle – Mullins

Bill Surratt – Spartanburg/Gaffney

Landy Weathers – Bowman

Beth White – York

South Dakota

Committee Chair Mark Gross – Bridgewater

Gwen Kitzen – Belle Fourche

Tiffani Robertson – Hermosa

Bill Simonsen – Roslyn

Tennessee

Committee Chair Steve Officer – Dekalb County

Daryl Brown – Maury County

Charlotte Kelly – Tipton County

Renea Jones Rogers – Unicoi County

Texas

Committee Chair Jerry Harris – Dawson/Gaines County

Juan Garcia – Willacy County

Rodney Schronk – Hillsboro

Michael Skalicky – Ganado

Linda G. Williams – Dumas

Utah

Committee Chair William Tolbert – Piute County

Scott Mower – Sanpete County

Randy Sessions – Morgan County

Mike Yardley – Beaver County

Vermont

Committee Chair Sally Goodrich – Cabot

Jacques Couture – Westfield

Heidi Dolloff – Springfield

Joe Tisbert – Cambridge

Virginia

Committee Chair Brian K. Harris – Heathsville

Gary D. Cross – Zuni

Matthew J. Lohr – Broadway

Charles P. Shorter – Blacksburg

Steve Sturgis – Eastville

Washington

Committee Chair Melanie Wyss – Okanagan County

Maureen Harkcom – Lewis County

Jesus Limon – Grandview

Robyn Meenach – Spokane County

Bruce Nelson – Spokane County

West Virginia

Committee Chair Andrea Lambert – Taylor County

Lois Alt – Hardy County

Russell Linger Jr. – Huttonsville

Rocky Peck – Wood County

Sarah Wayne – Braxton County

Wisconsin

Committee Chair Lisa Condon – Horicon

Thomas Gillis – River Falls

David Heideman – Clintonville

Anthony Kurtz – Wonewoc

Tom McClellan – Delavan

Wyoming

Committee Chair Nancy Tarver – Gillette

Julie Hahn – Rawlins

David Slover – Worland

Puerto Rico

Committee Chair Carmen Rullan – Adjuntas

Duahmed Colon – Gurabo

Yanice Deynes – San Sebastian

Rebeca Feliciano – Aibonito

State committees are appointed for a one year term which began on January 1, 2018. Each state committee has five members, one chairperson and four members. States that are not listed here or that have incomplete lists will be announced at a later date.
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https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2018/01/04/perdue-announces-farm-service-agency-state-committee-appointees

Update on Continuing Resolution and Budget Process

Budget handwritten with blue lettering and underlined. Hand shown underlining the word
Good morning – With the current continuing resolution (CR) expiring on December 8, we want to share some information about federal spending bills and how Congress may fund the government. At this point, we don’t expect any government shutdown.
Hunter Moorhead
NASCOE Legislative Consultant


APPROPRIATIONS:
After the reconciliation process on tax reform is concluded, the Congress will turn to completing legislative action on funding the government for FY 2018 and other must pass items. The Senate Appropriations Committee has reported 8 of the FY 2018 appropriations bills from full committee and “posted” the remaining four unreported bills and reports (DoD, Financial Services, Homeland Security, and Interior). Those bills and reports can be viewed at:

DoD:
https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/majority/fy2018-defense-appropriations-bill-released ;

Financial Services:
https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/majority/fy2018-financial-services-and-general-government-appropriations-bill-released ;

Homeland Security:
https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/majority/fy2018-homeland-security-appropriations-bill-released

Interior:
https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/majority/fy2018-interior-environment-appropriations-bill-released .

This release of the Senate Appropriations Committee recommendations for the remaining FY 2018 bills sets the stage for conference activities between the House and the Senate on an omnibus appropriations spending measure once a “top line” spending level is agreed to between House and Senate leadership. Observers expect the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will need about three weeks to work out the differences between the 12 appropriations bills and assemble them into an omnibus appropriations bill.

Currently, under the existing continuing resolution, the government is funded through December 8, and an additional CR is expected to be necessary to fund the government beyond December 8 while the appropriations bills and other must pass legislation is finalized. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has suggested a CR until the end of the year may be necessary to complete the Congress’s legislative agenda and others have suggested CRs through December 22nd and through January 15 (2018). The longer the tax reform/relief process takes, the more likely continuing resolutions extending into 2018 become.

Spending levels for Defense and Non-Defense Discretionary continue to be the topic of speculation, with a two year spending adjustment to the Budget Control Act (BCA) of between $182b ($57b DoD, $34b NDD) and $224b ($70b DoD, $42b NDD). Expect the Budget Control Act adjustment to be on the lower side of the range being discussed. After the top line levels are agreed upon by leadership, the Appropriations committees will provide subcommittee allocations for the 12 individual bills to be negoatiated between the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittee chairs and professional staff.

3rd EMERGENCY DISASTER RELIEF SUPPLEMENTAL:
On the 18th of November, the White House submitted the third emergency supplemental request for hurricane (Harvey, Irma, Maria) disaster recovery efforts. That request can be viewed at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/Letters/fy_2018_hurricanes_supp_111717.pdf

While the request included $44b for FEMA ($23.5b), the Small Business Administration ($1.6b), agricultural assistance ($1b), Education Recovery fund ($1.2b), and miscellany Federal agency recovery costs ($4.6b), the request was notable for what it did not include: any funding for California wildfires relief efforts, incomplete funding for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands hurricane recovery efforts, etc. The Administration acknowledged that further supplemental requests would result from continuing efforts with Puerto Rico and the U. S. Virgin Islands “to identify, refine and articulate additional emergency funding requirements.” The supplemental is expected to move first through the Senate (on an existing and available appropriations vehicle), grow in size and scope, and move to the House in December. Both House and Senate Appropriations Committees are expected, time permitting, to hold oversight hearings on the administration’s request. The 3rd Supplemental may also carry other must pass legislative measures as it moves through the Senate and the House.

Possible other legislative measures rumored to be under consideration for inclusion in a Disaster Relief Supplemental, CR, or Omnibus measure that moves in December:

  1. Budget Control Act cap adjustments;
  2. Extenders (CHIP, Medicare, other);
  3. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) fix;
  4. FISA Section 702 Extension;
  5. Debt Limit Increase;
  6. National Flood Insurance Program Authorization (NFIP); and
  7. Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) Stabilization legislation.

NASCOE Legislative Update – Federal Retirement

Below is a legislative update from Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant, with information on the House and Senate actions regarding federal retirement benefits and other budget actions. Please distribute widely to membership:


The US Senate has completed Committee consideration of the 2018 Budget Resolution. I’m pleased to report that it doesn’t include language impacting Federal retirement benefits. The full Senate is expected next week to consider the Committee’s budget resolution.  Following adoption by the full Senate, House and Senate negotiators will conference the two resolutions. At that point, the House will insist on including the retirement cuts and the provision will be negotiated between the two bodies.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

President’s Budget:

On May 23rd, 2017, President Trump announced the Administration’s proposed FY 2018 budget request. In this request are proposals to make significant changes to the Federal Employees Retirement System and the Civil Service Retirement System. Included in the changes are:

  • Cost-of-living allowances for current and future FERS retirees eliminated.
  • COLAS for CSRS retirees would be reduced by 0.5 percent each year.
  • FERS employees would see employee contributions to their annuities increased by one percent each year for the next six years, without any corresponding benefit increase.
  • The FERS annuity supplement would be eliminated for new retirees starting in 2018.
  • Federal pensions would be based on the average of the highest five years of salary instead of the highest three.

Following the President’s FY 2018 request, the CBO argued that these changes would better align federal practices with those in the private sector through:

  • Basing pensions on five-year average earnings.
  • Many employers not offering health insurance benefits for retirees.
  • Many companies shifting from lifetime annuities to defend contribution plans that require smaller contributions from employers.

However, the CBO also noted that these changes would lessen the attractiveness of the overall compensation package provided by the federal government, potentially affecting the ability to attract and retain a highly-qualified workforce. Additionally, under the President’s proposed changes, positions requiring professional and advanced degrees may become harder to fill, private-sector counterparts already provide a higher compensation to comparable federal government positions.

Under the current budget circumstances and within the current political situation, it will be difficult for the President’s proposed changes to become reality. The President’s budget request is the first step in a long process to actually forming the budget.

House Budget:

On July 19th, 2017, the House Budget Committee approved their FY 2018 Budget 22-14. At this time, the House of Representatives has not yet scheduled floor or full House consideration of their Committee proposal.  However, Speaker Ryan has publicly stated that the House will consider the budget in September.

The House FY 2018 budget instructions dictate that the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to submit changes in laws within its jurisdiction sufficient to reduce the deficit by $32 billion for the period of fiscal years 2018 through 2027. The House FY 2018 budget includes measures affecting changes to federal government retirement practices, including ending the supplement only for future retirees, how much to raise the required contribution, over how long a period, and whether it would apply to all employees, to reach this required $32 billion savings over the next 10 years.

The Budget committee report includes the language, “Reform Civil Service Pensions. The policy describes in the Income Support, Nutrition, and Related Programs section of this report would increase the share of Federal retirement benefits funded by the employee. This policy has the effect of reducing the personnel costs for the employing agency. The budget assumes savings from a reduction in agency appropriations associated with the reduction in payments that agencies make into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund for Federal employee retirement.”

Additionally, the Report includes the following policy statement on the same, “Reform Civil Service Pensions. This budget adopts a policy proposed by former President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility. The policy calls for Federal employees, including members of Congress and staff, to make greater contributions toward their own defined benefit retirement plans. It would also end the ‘‘special retirement supplement,’’ which pays Federal employees the equivalent of their Social Security benefit at an earlier age. This would achieve significant savings while recognizing the need for new Federal employees to transition to a defined contribution retirement system. The vast majority of private sector employees participate in defined contribution retirement plans. These plans put the ownership, flexibility, and portfolio risk on the employee as opposed to the employer. Similarly, Federal employees would have more control over their own retirement security under this option. President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget calls for a phased-in increase to contributions federal employees pay into the Federal Employee Retirement System so that both employees and the government are contributing an equal amount.”

And finally, the Report encourages limiting Federal Health Coverage Funding for federal employees. It states, “currently, Federal contributions to the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program grow by the average weighted rate of change in these programs. This budget supports restricting the growth in these plans to inflation. It also proposes restricting Federal employees’ retirement benefits based on length of service, which would bring Federal benefits in line with the private sector model.”

Thanks,

Jackson Jones & Donny Green,
NASCOE Legislative Co-Chairpersons

USDA Press Release: Perdue Applauds President Trump’s Selections for Key USDA Posts

(Washington, D.C., September 1, 2017) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded President Donald J. Trump’s selection of three individuals for key positions within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The president announced Gregory Ibach as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP), Bill Northey as Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC), and Stephen Vaden as USDA’s General Counsel.

The Under Secretary for MRP oversees three critical USDA agencies: the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; the Agricultural Marketing Service; and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration.  The Under Secretary for FPAC oversees three critical USDA agencies: the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency.

“I look forward to the confirmations of Greg Ibach, Bill Northey, and Stephen Vaden, and urge the Senate to take up their nominations as quickly as possible,” Perdue said.  “This is especially important given the challenges USDA will face in helping Texans and Louisianans recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.”

Regarding the individual selections, Perdue issued the following statements:

On Greg Ibach:
“Greg Ibach will bring the experience and vision necessary to serve as a first rate Under Secretary for MRP at USDA.  His exemplary tenure as Nebraska’s Director of Agriculture places him squarely in tune with the needs of American agriculture, particularly the cattle industry.  His proven track record of leadership will make him a great asset to USDA’s customers, the hard working, taxpaying people of U.S. agriculture.”

On Bill Northey:
“Bill Northey will continue his honorable record of public service in leading FPAC.  Having served the people of Iowa for the last ten years as their Secretary of Agriculture, and as a fourth generation corn and soybean farmer, Bill has a unique understanding of issues facing farmers across the nation.  He will be an invaluable member of the team.”

On Stephen Vaden:
“Stephen Vaden has a keen legal mind, as we have already experienced through his work since he joined USDA as part of the beachhead team on day one.  He has a firm grasp of the legal issues facing American agriculture, and very importantly, understands the breadth and complexity of the regulatory burdens placed on our producers.  Our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers will be well served by his counsel.”

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