The House of Representatives and U.S. Senate approved legislation funding the government at current levels through November 21. This allows our employees to continue working without any lapse of federal appropriations.
The bill includes language allowing the Secretary of Agriculture to continue disbursing Commodity Credit Corporation funds for the Market Facilitation Program. This will ensure farmers continue to receive financial assistance.
Our legislative committee is working to educate legislators about the need for additional salaries and expenses funding for the next fiscal year. In addition, Members of Congress continue to highlight FSA’s field office staffing needs and the inability to adequately deliver farm programs.
The agency has completed the new workload analysis and our farmers deserve better customer service. We believe field office staff numbers are short over 2,000 FTEs. The time has come for the USDA to give us the tools necessary to deliver farm programs.
2020 Appropriations Update September 11, 2019
Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant
On June 25th, the full House voted 227-194 to approve the fiscal year 2020 Agriculture appropriations bill which included an increase in FSA salaries and expenses of 3.8 % or $ 41 million. The Senate has yet to act on any 2020 appropriation measures. Due to this lack of progress, the House is planning to move a continuing resolution next week that will run through November 21st or 22nd, or through December 6th. It appears November 21st or 22nd will the most likely choice, but we are told the decision has not been made yet. At this time, we do not expect that the government will face another shutdown. With an election year coming up, we do not feel that anyone in Congress will have the stomach to add this as an issue for voters to take sides on.
The Senate planned on moving 4 bills this week through subcommittee and full committee appropriations. Democrats met Monday night, and decided they wanted to push back on anticipated allocations in domestic discretionary as well as on some issues important to their base (border wall restrictions, abortion/title X, etc.). There is a divide between members who want to work with the majority and address their concerns through the process (in conference) and those who want to begin fighting on every appropriations bill immediately.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell reiterated on the Sunday news programs his intention is to only pass appropriations bills in the Senate acceptable to the President.
The plan had been to mark up four bills this week (DoD, E&W, LHHS, SFO), four next (Ag, FS, MilCon/VA, THUD), and four the following week (CJS, DHS, Interior, Leg Branch). Chairman Shelby and Senate Republican Leadership hoped to have the first four bills on the Senate floor next week (9/16-9/20). Absent some agreement between Chairman Shelby, Ranking Member Leahy and Senate Leadership, the FY 2020 appropriations schedule appears to be moving further down the calendar.
NASCOE fully understands that our members will have concerns, especially considering the events last year. We will continue to closely monitor the appropriations process and will keep membership apprised as new developments arise.
NASCOE is excited to
announce an opportunity for states to develop and enhance leadership to promote
sustainability and success into the future. We are asking states to identify,
engage, educate, and invest in the “NASCOE Leadership Development Program” which
is designed to focus exclusively on leadership development and enhancement all
the way from the state level to the national level!
We have so much
undiscovered and available talent within NASCOE’s membership, and we want to do
our best to recruit and train future aspiring leaders to continue carrying the
torch. It is NASCOE’s goal to deliver this training in a “train-the-trainer”
format so that the results and benefits will be perpetual by allowing states to
take this model back home and continue “passing the torch” to future
generations of up and coming leaders.
It is important to
understand that this leadership training is not focused on a traditional
audience compared to NASCOE’s audience for legislative conferences. Our intent
is to focus on leadership development, with only a segment of legislative
Over the course of
several months, NASCOE’s leadership has worked diligently to formulate a
targeted plan of action, a suitable venue location, and a team of excellent
presenters and coordinators.
visit the NASCOE Leadership Development page
for more details and instructions on how to apply.
Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant June 5, 2019
Below are the highlights of the disaster aid package previously passed by the Senate, passed by the House earlier this week, and is now awaiting the President’s signature:
Title I – Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
Agricultural Programs — $3.005 billion. Payments for crop and livestock losses due to hurricanes, typhoons, volcanic activities, tornadoes, floods, snowstorms, or wildfires during 2018 and 2019.
Emergency Forest Restoration Program — $480 million. Assistance to owners of private forests to restore disaster-damaged forests.
Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations — $435 million. Financial and technical assistance to states and local sponsors to protect and restore watersheds.
Emergency Conservation Program — $558 million. Provides emergency funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.
Rural Community Facilities Program — $150 million. Grants for facilities to provide health care, education, public safety, and public services to rural communities.
Nutrition Assistance Program for Puerto Rico — $600 million. Additional funding to continue disaster nutrition benefits in Puerto Rico during its recovery from Hurricane Maria.
Nutrition Assistance Program for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) — $25.2 million. Additional funding for nutrition benefits in CNMI following typhoons in September and October.
Nutrition Assistance for America Samoa — $18 million for disaster nutrition assistance for American Samoa.
Study of Puerto Rico disaster nutrition assistance — $5 million for a study of the disaster nutrition assistance provided to the Commonwealth in 2017.
The Bill also includes:
Provides trade mitigation assistance through the Market Facilitation Program to producers who derive at least 75 percent of their adjusted gross income from farming, ranching, or forestry related activities.
Establishes crop insurance for hemp products.
Allows certain California communities affected by 2018 wildfires to be eligible for USDA Rural Development programs until 2020 Census data is available.
Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant May 17, 2019
The current work period has
proven active for agricultural policy proposals and related oversight hearings.
The below provides an update of certain activities that impact FSA programs and
Disaster Assistance — The House of Representatives, on May 10, passed legislation providing assistance for 2018 and 2019 hurricanes, wildfires floods and related disasters. The Senate is currently negotiating with the House to finalize what will become the final legislation. The Senate is expected to debate disaster assistance next week. The House details are summarized below for your review.
House Passed Bill:
$3.005 billion for crop and livestock losses for 2018 and 2019
$480 million for Emergency Forest Restoration Program
$125 million for Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations
$500 million for Emergency Conservation Program
$600 million for Puerto Rico nutrition assistance
$25 million for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands nutrition assistance
$5 million for American Samoa nutrition assistance
$5 million to study Puerto Rico nutrition assistance provided during 2017
Market Facilitation Program payment limitation language:
$900,000 and 75% from agriculture AGI payment limitation
$125,000 payment cap
Market Facilitation Program — The Secretary of Agriculture recently commented that USDA will provide another round of trade assistance. Our contacts believe the total assistance will range between $15 and 20 billion. It is likely that payment rates for specific commodities will be adjusted compared to 2018. Once available, we will provide additional details.
Federal Appropriations — The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to consider the fiscal year 2020 bill on Thursday, May 23. Our meetings with Members and staff have been productive but didn’t provide any details about funding levels. Currently, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to meet Tuesday, June 11.
H.R. 2478 Federal Retirement Fairness Act — Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) has introduced legislation allowing former temporary employees, in a temporary position after December 31, 1988, to be credited for service under FERS. Unlike previous legislation, this proposal is more favorable by not requiring significant investment by individual employees while giving workers additional credit toward retirement. We will continue to monitor this legislation that could potentially impact many of our members.
As promised in our last update on the pay increase and
retroactive pay issues, NASCOE is sharing some good news from the National
Finance Center (NFC bulletin # 1555103318) on the timing of the receipt of the
pay raise and the retroactive measure.
“On Sunday, April 7, 2019, NFC generated the pay adjustment
actions (NOA 894) for the 2019 retroactive pay increase. What this means is that most employees will see their salary increase
in pay period (PP) 07, with retroactive funds included back to PP01.”
some employees that have intervening personnel actions (within grade Increases
(WGI’s), promotions, and etc.) processed between PP01 and PP06 will not see
immediate pay increases. These scenarios require additional
corrective personnel actions from the Human Resources Offices to process the
salary changes. “Therefore, retroactive funds will be disbursed in subsequent
The entire document notification is posted on the Employee Personal Page (EPP) under “News and Announcements”. Employees with questions concerning this notification should contact their Servicing Personnel Office.
Neil Burnette & Donny Green
NASCOE Legislative Committee Co-Chairpersons
The Homeland Security Conference Report (including all the other appropriations bills outstanding for FY 2019) passed the Senate 83-16, and passed the House 300-128 (with 4 not voting) late this evening.
President Trump has signaled that he will sign the bill before the February 15 deadline which will prevent another government shutdown.
NASCOE’s Legislative Team will continue to track the President’s action on the bill and will provide additional updates.
The optimism at the end of last week about a deal on border security spending facilitating a compromise allowing completion of the FY 2019 appropriations process ran into a speedbump on Sunday.
After reportedly resolving the perceived lynchpin issue of border security funding – rumored to be $2 billion, a new issue of contention arose over the weekend. Reportedly, Democratic conferees on the Department of Homeland appropriations conference are insisting on a cap of 16,500 detention beds in the US.
Cynics paint this new matter as Democrats moving the goal post on the conference negotiations, others characterize it as House conferees reflecting the views of the new House Democratic majority, and still others describe it as a natural extension of Democrats’ concerns over the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, etc.
Senators Shelby and Leahy and Chairman Lowey and Ranking Member Granger are scheduled to meet at 3 pm today (2/11) to discuss the status of the conference negotiations and determine the path forward.
Reportedly, an additional weeklong CR is being prepared in case additional time is needed to conclude negotiations/passage of a final deal. None of the stakeholders want another shutdown.
Murmurings of a year-long CR for Homeland Security are also popping up around the Hill, but hopes are that the current negotiations will resolve this new matter and permit completion of the FY 2019 appropriations process.
NASCOE’s Legislative Team will continue to provide updates as this situation develops.