Programs Submission Response: TAP

ISSUE:
Is document CCC-899 timely filed?

FACTS:
Applicants who suffered eligible tree, brush and vine losses on or after January 1, 2015, must provide an application and supporting documentation to FSA within 90 calendar days of each disaster event or date when the loss is apparent to the producer.

SOLUTIONS:
If would be helpful if the TAP application process would mirror NAP somewhat and have a disaster beginning date and end date with no requirement of end date for those event such as greening, drought, etc., that appear ongoing. Right now we force the producer to put a disaster date on the application when it truly should be the date it was apparent.

NATIONAL OFFIC RESPONSE:
The changes you mention below would require a regulatory change (see below).  

§ 1416.405 Application.

(a) To apply for TAP, a producer that suffered eligible tree, bush, or vine losses that occurred:

(1) On or after October 1, 2011, through December 31, 2014, must provide an application for payment and supporting documentation to FSA by the later of January 31, 2015, or 90 calendar days after the disaster event or date when the loss is apparent to the producer.

(2) During the 2015 calendar year or later, must provide an application for payment and supporting documentation to FSA within 90 calendar days of the disaster event or date when the loss of trees, bushes, or vines is apparent to the producer.

The statutory language specifies:

(2) ELIGIBILITY.—

(A) LOSS.—Subject to subparagraph (B), for fiscal year 2012 and each succeeding fiscal year, the Secretary shall use such sums as are necessary of the funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation to provide assistance—

(i) under paragraph (3) to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers that planted trees for commercial purposes but lost the trees as a result of a natural disaster, as determined by the Secretary; and

(ii) under paragraph (3)(B) to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers that have a production history for commercial purposes on planted or existing trees but lost the trees as a result of a natural disaster, as determined by the Secretary.

Losses due to plant disease differs from natural disaster because the time period between infection and symptom appearance can be from a few days to several years. In the case of plant disease, the 15% mortality threshold and normal mortality is cumulative (with DAFP approval). See subparagraph 31 C and D of 1-TAP.

 

Programs Submission Response: Updating 902 Land Contributions

ISSUE:
Updating the 902 Land Contributions when a producer needs to revise his/her Farm Operating Plan

FACTS:
It is very time consuming to select each:   *Farm Number *Tract Number *Owner Name * Farmland or Cropland *whether or not they farmed it last year Yes/No *Acres

SOLUTIONS:
It would be much more efficient to be able to have an option to “select all” above each column so we could uncheck the ones not needed.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
We agree the option to select “All Tracts” would be beneficial when recording leases. I will add this suggestion to the list of enhancements that we would like to complete but it may be a while before we can implement the change due to resource and budget constraints. 

However, the option to “select all” for the Type of Acres, Land Interest the same as last year question and Name, we intentionally default the type of acres and land interest question to empty to force a selection and if there are multiple producers with relationship to the tract, the producers with the lease to or lease from must be selected. These fields should be reviewed and entered independently for each tract to ensure the information selected is accurate. In addition, for the Name, it is very possible different tracts have different customers related to the tract so the ability to “select all” cannot be used.

Programs Submission Response: MAL/CLPS

ISSUE:
CCC-666 Commodity Loan Request form should be automated and part of the MAL CLPS software.

FACTS:
Completing these forms manually is very inefficient and leaves much room for human error, especially during the bin bushel calculation. 

SOLUTIONS:
Modify existing input screens so data on the form could be captured and calculated within the CLPS system. Input data should include County and Township location for each bin so that proper loan rates could be automatically pulled in from a table. Bushel calculation errors and loan rate errors could be avoided by automating this form.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
Thank you for the suggestion.  I will add automating the form to our list of enhancements.

 

Programs Submission Response: Corn Intended Use Policy

ISSUE:
Corn silage acreage must be loaded as forage for FSA and then for ACRSI we must clarify the intended use to silage.

FACTS:
Many years ago the RMA crop information screen used corn silage before it was switched to forage. Since there are thousands of corn silage fields in the country, is there any thought to switching back to silage so COFs don’t have to address a silage field every time it is loaded in a crop report?

SOLUTIONS:
Amend handbook 2-CP and CARS so that all corn silage acres are loaded as corn silage, not corn forage or have the ability to load a default that addressed the RMA intended use. At one time FSA did report as silage.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
Submit your request to add SG as a valid intended use for corn according to 2-CP, subparagraph 41 B.

 

Programs Submission Response: LFP Software Availability

ISSUE:
LFP Software Availability

FACTS:
LFP software availability is being delayed for counties that have been declared eligible. 

Manual applications taken for LFP require second party review for correctness.  This results in triple man hours when you have taken the application manually, then loaded, then additional employee has second partied.  Manual applications also increase the potential for human error.

SOLUTIONS:
LFP software should be made available to counties immediately upon being declared eligible OR open the software to allow users to load applications regardless of county eligibility.  Payments are determined by a downloaded payment factor which will not trigger until the file is appropriately received from National Office anyway.  County Offices and their producers are very aware of the drought monitor and LFP eligibility.

NATIONAL OFFICE SOFTWARE  RESPONSE:
In 2016 it was determined that the LFP application software did not meet certain compliance requirements and the program underwent a rewrite to correct these compliance issues. When the rewritten program was released in December 2016, we discovered several bugs in the program that hadn’t been discovered in testing. One of the bugs involved updating the monthly payment rates for eligible counties. The software was not updating drought intensity factors, so the software was not calculating new payments based on the new drought intensity factors. Information Bulletin 8545 was issued in February to let the field know that there was a problem with updates.  Once corrections to the software were made, and extensive testing was completed to assure the problem had been fixed, Information Bulletin 8556 was issued on March 10, 2017 to notify the field that the problems with the LFP application software had been resolved and county eligibility had been updated.

“LFP Eligible Counties” report is updated on a weekly basis. The National Office receives the list of “LFP Eligible Counties” on Thursday of each week, and the “LFP Eligible Counties” report is usually updated by Friday or no later than Monday of the next week, depending on the number of eligible counties on the listing.  Once the LFP eligible counties are approved each week, our Program Delivery Branch website is updated with a link for the latest drought intensity factor for all eligible counties nationwide. The only official source for “LFP Eligible Counties” is found at this address under the heading “LFP”: http://fsaintranet.sc.egov.usda.gov/ffas/farmbill/ccc/. The link will reference the date of the latest data.

NATIONAL OFFICE POLICY  RESPONSE:
LFP applications should only be taken when a county has received notification that a forage type is eligible for LFP on the “LFP Eligible Counties” listing found at: : http://fsaintranet.sc.egov.usda.gov/ffas/farmbill/ccc/ for the specific grazing period.  No other report or listing authorizes eligibility.  So, if county offices are taking applications without their county and forage type being listed, then manual applications should be taken because the crop and county have not been officially approved for LFP.

Programs Submission Response: Farm Reconstitutions and Transfers

ISSUE:
Difficulty in tracking reconstitution history and county transfers

FACTS:
It can be difficult to trace the history of a farm after multiple recons. MIDAS currently shows the “Combined from” and “Divided from” information in Farm Records. 

SOLUTIONS:
Would it be possible to include the Combined from and Divided from information print on the FSA-156EZ?

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
Thank you for submitting the concerns with tracking reconstitutions and the suggestions for the FSA-156EZ. We recognize that the ability to track reconstitutions has been a pain point with the field staff since the expected reconstitution reports were not able to be implemented immediately in MIDAS CRM. I am hoping that the software update that occurred this last weekend with MIDAS Release 2.19 provides the tools and reconstitution reports the users are needing to assist with tracking the history of a farm or tract through the completed reconstitutions. Please see Web Transmittal No. 536 for additional information on the new reconstitution ID and reports that are now available. A notice will also be posted in the near future with additional information and instructions.

While the new reports in CRM Farm Records will not reference the reconstitutions completed in CRM prior to the software update, all reconstitutions completed from this time forward will be assigned a Reconstitution ID number and reports can be generated to identify the parent and/or child farms and tracts associated with the specific reconstitution. Concerning the FSA-156EZ, this initial release of the reconstitution reports did not include populating the FSA-156EZ with the reconstitution ID. This has been identified as a needed update. We will also look into adding the “combine from” and “divided from” on the form. Adding the reconstitution ID and the additional reconstitution data to the FSA-156EZ will be an enhancement to the existing functionality and will be subject to prioritization and funding.

There currently is not a plan to add a County Transfer report in CRM Farm Records, but there will be a County Transfer report in the new reporting application that is being developed. Hopefully this report will assist counties with tracking the farm transfers as needed.

Programs Submission Response: NAP Notice of Loss

ISSUE:
The NAP Notice of Loss should provide a total of the “Disaster Affected Planted Acres”. 

FACTS:
At payment time, the notice of loss is matched to the producer print to verify acreage. Employee must manually total the notice of loss to accomplish this task.

SOLUTIONS:
The form does a great job of providing the FSN, unit number and acreage. In order for it to be easily matched to the producer print, add a line for TOTAL of DISASTER AFFECTED PLANTED ACRES.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
We have discussed this issue at the national level. We contend that Item 8D could potentially have the same acreage affected numerous times for difference disaster events. We realize that this item is not currently being totaled since that could result in the disaster affected acres exceeding the reported acres. Form CCC-576 is a multiple program form and is not necessarily being used strictly for NAP. As a division and team, we will propose to review this form under the next Farm Bill or if budget would allow for modifications during this current Farm Bill. If the form is revised it would have to meet the criteria of all other programs currently utilizing the information contained on the form as well as comply with the Information Collection Package as authorized by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

 

Programs Submission Response: Practice Length in COLS

ISSUE:
Contract length selection in COLS

FACTS:
Currently when adding a new offer in COLS, contract length defaults to 10 years and has been erroneously left at the default in times of high workload and short turn around deadlines. This results in the need for an FSA-321 misaction/misinformation to correct the error. In addition, we are required to obtain a statement from the contract holder that they did want the 15 year contract (for example).

SOLUTIONS:
In order for the contract length to not be inadvertently left at the 10 year default, would it be possible that the field default to a “blank” so the user would have to select 10 – 15 years? If this entry is overlooked then the software should notify the user that the years have not been specified. This should greatly lessen the number of FSA 321s being submitted to fix the incorrect contract length.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
Our team is currently testing a new Practice Screen redesign. It has been in development for months and has been a huge effort for COLS. Practice Length field value will default to “-Select-“ for all practices with multiple practice year options available. (See screen shot below) If a practice only has one Practice Length it will automatically default to the only option available. It is currently targeted for deployment to production the end of this month.

 DEFAULT VALUE “-Select-“

COLS 1

DROPDOWN VALUES AVAILABLE TO SELECT FROM

COLS 2

DEFAULT VALUE “10”

COLS 3

I would like to point out the following information provided by the development team:

  • When there is only one practice length, that will be automatically selected.
  • When there is more than one practice length, dropdown will be defaulted to “—Select—“ and user will be forced to select one length.

There is a defect logged against the Practice Length field that was found during testing. If the team is able to fix it timely, we should be on target for deployment the end of this month. Keep in mind if it is not easily fixed, it will be delayed. An IB will be issued once it is in production.

Programs Submission Response: BTO & RFS

ISSUE:
Receipts for Service are required for each producer action/visit in the County Office.

FACTS:
Entering information for receipts for service is time consuming. During heavier workload times in the County Office this can become burdensome.

SOLUTIONS:
Link Bridges to Opportunity software with Program software, so that the RFS will be automatic when the producer has a service with FSA. This would be much more efficient for the employee and producer both.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
This is a very good suggestion, one which we have discussed since the inception of using The Bridge for Receipt for Service (RFS). 

We are exploring the possibility of auto-populating the RFS section of the Customer Interaction to make the process more efficient. However, it first must be determined feasible, then developed and deployed; given time and budget constraints, this feature will not be researched or realized, if determined feasible, until FY18. 

Programs Submission Response: Measurements in MIDAS

ISSUE:
When measuring lines in MIDAS with the measurement tool, the lines disappear when measuring multiple lines. They do not stay on the screen.

FACTS:
It makes it hard to have a guideline for a split when the measure line disappears.

SOLUTIONS:
Suggestion would be to be able to keep each line on the screen until an “erase all” or “delete measurements” icon was selected. This way multiple measurements could be made and used for splits.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
You are correct that the measurement service tool available from the General GIS Toolbar in CRM does have limitations. As you stated, the user is limited to only a single measurement session at a time. We can look into adding additional functionality to the measurement service tool, though this enhancement will be subject to prioritization and funding.

 In the meantime, I want to make sure that users are aware of the existing functionality of the measurement service tool. Users can draw out multiple measured boundaries as long as the segments measured are connected and drawn in a single measurement service session. The measurement service graphics will also stay on the screen so users can use them as reference when delineating a field with the drawing tools as long as the user was in an Edit mode prior to drawing the measurement service. Additional functionality includes the ability to “snap” to the measurement service graphics while delineating the permanent boundary using the regular snapping functions (Holding the control-key and clicking on a vertex of the measurement service boundary).

Below is an example of measurement service using the Draw Polygon option:

midas example

I am in an Edit mode. The Draw Polygon tool was used to measure a new area. The length/distance of each segment of the measurement service is labeled on the screen. Once I select the field that the measurement service is within (and zoom to the correct extent), the GIS editing tools become active and the measurement service stays on the screen. The new boundary can be delineated and the snapping function can be used to snap the new boundary to the measurement service graphic. The measurement service graphic will stay on the screen until a Save and Sync is completed.