Program Submission Response: CCMS interface with Subsidiary for AGI

ISSUE:

CRP approvals require AGI forms on file prior to approval.

FACTS:

CRP-1s approved prior to obtaining applicable AGI requires STO and National Office attention.

SOLUTION:

Would it be possible to modify the software to read from the subsidiary file?  CRP software should be modified to read the AGI file similar to payment processes for the CRP approval process.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:

We have been working on adding the ability to check if AGI has been filed at time of contract revision/division approval and development for this new functionality is approved but has not yet started due to resource constraints.  After the enhancement is moved into production, additional information will be provided to the field on the use of the new functionality.

Program Submission Response: Bridges to Opportunity Enhancement

ISSUE:

Bridges to Opportunity – New Customer Interaction – Receipt for Service

It is possible to make the menus for the customer service, items provided to customer, items received from customer, and receipt drop-down menus, instead of the current scroll menus.

FACTS:

When trying to see which options to choose, it is hard to find them because you only see four options at a time.

SOLUTION:

Would it be possible to incorporate drop down menus to see more available options.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:

We have discussed various ways to make that aspect of the application more user friendly. We will pursue improvements as you suggest in the coming weeks and months. One solution that may be possible is having autocomplete fields in which one starts typing what they want and a list of possibilities are shown. This may be even more effective than drop down menus. Either way, we will be improving the interface soon.

Program Submission Response: MIDAS Farm Records Enhancement

ISSUE:

Farm record changes such as ownership changes, operator changes, and other tenants.

FACTS:

Handbook policy requires notification of farm record changes.

SOLUTION:

MIDAS software will generate an automatic FSA-476 in letter form to notify reconstitution participants of changes to base acres.  Would it be possible to enhance the software to generate a letter when changes are made to ownership, operation and tenants added? It would be more efficient if the software automatically generated a letter, and it would save employees time.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:

Thank you for the suggestion on automating the notification letters when producer changes occur on a farm.   I agree that this would benefit the county offices and help insure that the required notification letters are being sent to all applicable producers. I will add this to our list of software enhancements, though implementing this change will be up to prioritization and budget.

Additionally, another specialist, who handles the policy side of Farm Records, and I have discussed the need to have a standard letter available in 10-CM to be used when notifying the associated producers when any acreage change occurs on a farm . We hope to have this standard letter included in a future amendment to 10-CM.

Program Submission Response: Conservation User Guides

ISSUE :

Field offices spend a lot of time trying to locate procedure and instructions found in user guides and program guides that have not been incorporated into a particular handbook.  For example, COLS and CCMS. Some of these user guides also need to be updated to reflect software that is currently in use.

FACTS:

Most guides are located on various sharepoint sites and are extremely difficult to locate.  It is also difficult to determine if the guides are current.

SOLUTION:

Since handbooks and notices are now stored in electronic format, searching for this information could be much quicker if it were stored on the same page as access to handbooks.  Eliminating excessive searching, and having current versions of user guides will result in field personnel performing their jobs more timely and with greater confidence.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:

The current software user guides for all Conservation Systems are all located here:

https://sharepoint.fsa.usda.net/mgr/dafp/CEPD/User_Guides/SitePages/Home.aspx

We are working towards putting all of this documentation into FSA Handbook format that will be located on the handbooks website when completed.

Program Submission Response: ARCPLC Enrollment Reports

ISSUE :

ARCPLC Enrollment Reports.  It is difficult to locate farms that are missing enrollment in ARCPLC when comparing to previous years.  When trying to locate farms that were enrolled/approved in the previous year, but are missing in the current year, we are having to use multiple excel spreadsheets to cross reference, which can lead to human error.

FACTS:

Currently there is no report for enrollment that will list and compare enrolled/approved farms for the previous year as compared to the current year.

SOLUTION:

Would it be possible to make available a report to cross reference previous year to current to aid in enrollment?

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:

We will put this request on our list of enhancements.  The key issue is funding.

Program Submission Response: COLS Search Enhancement

ISSUE:

CRP – COLS
New GIS Offer (Search by Tract Option Needed)

FACTS:

All CRP offers are placed by Tract Number.

When placing a new offer for CRP there are a number of steps. One that would simplify the process would be to add a Tract Search on the New GIS Offer screen. Currently, offers are not removed from the signup list. They start out in Farm Number Order then Tract, but then the numbers randomly change. The data within a signup is not sorted in an ascending order. Therefore it is a constant scroll and search, which wastes time.

SOLUTION:

It would be much more efficient method to include a Tract Number Search when selecting the State/County/Signup.

If a search is not a viable option, at least update the listing for the signup to be sorted by ascending Tract Number.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:

This will be added to the enhancement list and we will see what we can do.  COLS is slated for a redesign in a couple years and we had already identified this as a pain point needing fixed.  Whether or not I can get it in before the redesign will be up to management and funding allocations.

Program Submission Response: NAP NCT prices

ISSUE:

Handbook 1-NAP paragraph 4B states STC shall establish average market prices and payment factors at least 120 calendar days before the sales closing date for the crop.

FACTS:

The average market prices and payment factors are not posted until after the closing date so producers have no way to accurately estimate risk management.

SOLUTION:

Set the software to lock the prices loaded by 120 days before the sales closing date for the crop.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:

Thank you for your submission.  The purpose of the requirement to have the STC establish the average market prices and payment factors at least 120 calendar days before the application closing date for the crop is so producers will know the potential coverage and can make an informed decision as to whether or not obtaining NAP coverage is a good risk management tool for them in advance of the application closing date.  It was because of this requirement that the rules were changed to no longer require the most recent crop year when establishing the price or yield because we knew those prices and yields might not be available far enough in advance to establish the crop data timely.

Based on the issue that was raised in your email, it seems as though the applicable state does not understand the importance of not only establishing the average market price and payment factors, but updating that information in the NCT in a timely manner.  We will look for the best method to communicate to State Offices the importance of both of those things because as the submitter indicated, producers should be aware of their potential coverage in advance of making the decision of whether or not to obtain NAP coverage.

Programs Submission Response: NAP Reports in CVS Format

ISSUE:
Both CARS and ARC/PLC reports have the option to download reports into Excel. It would be extremely helpful for the NAP program to also have this capability.

 FACTS:
New NAP reports have been added (thank you !) to assist in the management of the program, but having the reports in Excel format would be extremely helpful as different crop types have different deadlines and work items.

 SOLUTIONS:
Implement the ability for NAP reports to be exported to Excel like other programs already have capability to do.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
The National Office is aware of the need for the reports in CVS format and is working to have this done for all NAP reports.  The limited contractors and funding has been the most recent hold up. 

Programs Submission Response: LFP Animal Units

ISSUE:
Incorrect payment calculation due to discrepancy in livestock descriptions in 1-LDAP (Rev 1) Para 402A

FACTS:
Specific definitions are provided for adult and non adult beef that excludes calves that are nursing their mothers during an eligible drought (ie a pair).  The sheep definition makes no distinction on age or weight categories similar to beef.  Guidance has been provided to COF that all sheep (including lambs that are still nursing) should be counted as separate animal units for LFP purposes.  However, the CFR states that no charge shall be made for animals under 6 months of age, at the time of entering public lands, or other lands administered by the BLM that are the natural progeny of animals upon which fees are paid, provided the will not become 12 months of age during the authorized period of use, nor for progeny born during that period.

SOLUTION:
Add language that states adolescent livestock (all types) are not eligible for payment for LFP purposes because they are considered in the animal unit calculation of the mother, which is eligible for payment under LFP.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
Thank you for the suggestion.  We are aware of the issue and are looking into it for the 2018 program year.

Programs Submission Response: TAP Cost Share Extensions

ISSUE:
1-TAP, para 153 B requires approved replacement practices be completed within 12 months.  The STC may approve one extension up to one year.

FACTS:
Tree nurseries do not propagate stock on speculation.  Trees must be ordered several years in advance to insure the desired combination of variety and rootstock suitable for a grower’s individual conditions and market.  For example, a case in the northeast area forced an apple producer to purchase dwarf apple trees they would not have purchased to plant within the two year time limit.  The loss occurred in 2004, planting was required to be completed by 2006.  Eleven years after re-planting, the block will be cut down by the producer due to poor performance.  The time limitation ended up hurting the producer instead of helping recover from the initial tree loss.

SOLUTION:
Allow STCs to make an additional year extension, with documentation of an order and delivery date for the nursery stock.  This would give producers up to three years for delivery of the desired stock, if needed.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
DAFP policy regarding practice extensions is as stated in the TAP regulations (1416.407) and 1-TAP Handbook procedure (Par. 153).  Any individual case that the STC believes to have merit beyond the extended period would have to be sent in to DAFP for individual consideration.