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: LFP

Submission # 1

ISSUE:
The LFP software does not allow you to input signature dates without going through each screen of the application. This is can get to be pretty time-consuming, especially when the software is running slowly.

FACTS:
LFP applications are not always loaded while the producer is sitting at the counter, so signature dates have to be loaded at a later time. This process would be much quicker if it did not require clicking “Continue” five times and waiting for each page to load.

SOLUTION:
Could an option be added on the LFP software sidebar that allows users to jump straight to the final page of the application so that signature dates can be loaded quickly and efficiently?

Submission # 2

ISSUE:
The reports in the LFP software could be more useful.

FACTS:
LFP Reports are good but, the sort function leaves a little to be desired. With the report produced in application number order, I had to scan the list over and over for multiple producers to complete a task I was working on. I finally gave up and typed my own excel spreadsheet.

SOLUTION:
Can the Reports be available to print in alphabetical order versus application number order? Even better would be an ‘export to excel’ radio button so that we can sort any way we want. Then multiple county offices (like mine) could even merge the two or more reports together. That would be the best, most useful tool for ALL program software reports, not just LFP.

AREA CHAIR COMMENT:
I think this is a good suggestion. I too have multiple counties carried out of my office and it is hard to sort through the current reports. Any report in an excel spreadsheet form such as the AGI reports we can get from subsidiary can help COF’s manage the way they need to use the information coming from that report.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE (for both submissions):
We agree that both of your submissions would improve the software for users. We are adding your submissions to our list of enhancements and will work on them as budget and resources permit.

Programs Submission Response: Acreage Reporting Fees

ISSUE:
Newly eligible disaster counties whose producers may now benefit from LFP. Often these producers are new or haven’t participated in a while and so they didn’t report their acreage by the deadline. In one case, the total payment is around $120 so the $46 late-file fee for the acreage report is a significant chunk out of the payment. I’ve also heard that some states are waiving these fees while others are not, which leads to some confusion amongst offices and producers

FACTS:
What is hurting us right now is several counties on the western side of the state just triggered D3 and many, many livestock operations who do not normally file an acreage report did not report before the Nov 15, 2014 deadline. According to a reminder our state office put out today, those late-filing operations do not meet the new exception to waiving late file fee (2-CP , Amend 90, Page 2-19, last exception noted under sub par D – they don’t get a waiver because their reporting deadline was before Jan 1, 2015.) This is going to cause a lot of heartburn because many of those same producers will report their crops on farms that have only cropland acres to report and they can get fees waived on those farms but not on the farms that are primarily grazing/LFP acres.

SOLUTION:
Can you tell me if there is any thought to waiving fees for these producers?

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE: (Paraphrased from DAFP Call)
Follow 2-CP regarding the current exception for waiving late file fees for 2015. Going forward we are following 2-CP rules and LFP applicants are expected to be aware of and adhere to acreage reporting deadlines. There currently aren’t any additional waivers under consideration beyond what is in the handbook.