News from
The National Association of Farmer Elected Committees
Contact: Craig Turner: 806-269-0610

From the President’s Desk                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           June, 10, 2013

Pursuant to Article IV, Section 5 of the Constitution of the National Association of Farmer Elected Committees and Article VIII of the By-Laws, I hereby submit the proposed changes to the governing documents of the association to be discussed and voted on at our Annual Convention in Asheville, NC.

CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FARMER ELECTED COMMITTEES
AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION

NOTE: Any changes to Constitution and/or By-Laws are indicated by italicized font with proposed language immediately following.

Constitution

PREAMBLE

All segments of our National economy must be healthy and prosperous if a vigorous forward thrust in economy is to be maintained. If our farm economy is permitted to lag for any extended period, the entire National economy will suffer. History proves that economic depressions are farm led and farm fed.

ARTICLE I Name and Location of Offices

 News from
The National Association of Farmer Elected Committees
                                                    Contact: Craig Turner: 806-269-0610

 

From the President’s Desk                                                                                                                             June, 10, 2013

Pursuant to Article IV, Section 5 of the Constitution of the National Association of Farmer Elected Committees and Article VIII of the By-Laws, I hereby submit the proposed changes to the governing documents of the association to be discussed and voted on at our Annual Convention in Asheville, NC.

CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FARMER ELECTED COMMITTEES

AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION

 

NOTE: Any changes to Constitution and/or By-Laws are indicated by italicized font with proposed languageimmediately following.

 

Constitution

 

PREAMBLE

All segments of our National economy must be healthy and prosperous if a vigorous forward thrust in economy is to be maintained.  If our farm economy is permitted to lag for any extended period, the entire National economy will suffer.  History proves that economic depressions are farm led and farm fed.

ARTICLE I             Name and Location of Offices

This association shall be known as the National Association of Farmer Elected Committees.  The offices of the Association shall be located at the Secretary-Treasurer’s address.

Proposed Change:           This association shall be known as the National Association of Farmer Elected Committees.  The offices of the Association shall be located at the Secretary-Treasurer’s address or other address as approved by the Board of Directors.

ARTICLE II            Purposes and Objectives

The purpose and objectives of the Association shall be to promote, strengthen, and improve the farmer-elected committee system for local administration of programs.  It shall further be the purpose of the Association, through the coordinated strength of its membership, to seek, promote and maintain effective farm programs which will (1) increase and improve farm income until it reaches parity with non-farm income, (2) promote and preserve the family type farm, (3) eradicate rural poverty, (4) build and conserve the soil, water and forestry resources of the Nation, (5) promote new uses of agricultural products, and (6) expand foreign markets for agricultural products.

Fully appreciating the tremendous contributions made by the dedicated hard-working employees of the FSA County Committees throughout the Nation, it shall be further purpose of the Association to support and cooperate with actions and programs which will serve the best interest of our County employees.

 

ARTICLE III           Membership

 

Section 1

Any person who is a present or past member of a farmer elected county or community AAA, PMA, ASC, ASCS, Minority Advisor, FHA or FSA committee is eligible for membership.  Associate members are welcome, but are under each state’s control.

 

Proposed Change:               Any person who is a present or past member of a farmer elected county or community AAA, PMA, ASC, ASCS, Minority Advisor, or FSA committee is eligible for membership.  Associate members are encouraged, but are under each state’s control.

Section 2

No officer or member of this Association shall use his office or membership for the purpose of engaging in activities other than the stated purposes and objectives of this organization.

ARTICLE IV          Government

Section 1

The governing body of the Association shall be vested in a Board of Directors composed of the President or his alternate from each State where there are 100 or more members in good standing.  These directors shall be responsible for the general management of the organization as stated in the By-Laws.

Proposed Change:           The governing body of the Association shall be vested in a Board of Directors composed of the President or his alternate from each State.  These directors shall be responsible for the general management of the organization as stated in the By-Laws.  In the absence of a state organization, a director shall be appointed by the Executive Committee

Section 2

The Executive arm of the Association shall be an Executive committee composed of one duly elected member from each of the areas as described below in Exhibit 1 to NAFEC’s Constitution and By-Laws, plus four Constitutional offices of the Association.

Proposed Change:           The Executive arm of the Association shall be an Executive committee composed of one duly elected member from each of the areas as described below in Exhibit 1 to NAFEC’s Constitution and By-Laws, plus five Constitutional offices of the Association.

Exhibit 1

NAFEC Constitution and By-Laws

AREAS OF NAFEC

AREA                     STATES

Midwest                   Illinois                                  Indiana                                Iowa

  Michigan                              Missouri                               Wisconsin

  Minnesota                            Ohio

Northeast            Connecticut                           Delaware/Maryland           Maine

New Hampshire                    New Jersey                         Massachusetts/Rhode Island

New York                              Pennsylvania                       Vermont

  West Virginia

Northwest              Idaho                                    Nebraska                             Montana

  North Dakota                      Washington/Alaska             Oregon

  South Dakota                      Wyoming

Southeast               Alabama                               Arkansas                             Florida/Georgia

  Kentucky                             Louisiana                            Mississippi

  North Carolina                    South Carolina                    Tennessee

  Virginia

Southwest               Arizona                                 California/Hawaii              Colorado

  Kansas                                   Nevada                              New Mexico

  Oklahoma                               Texas                                 Utah

 

Section 3

The offices of this Association shall be a President, Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Vice President of Membership, and a Secretary-Treasurer to be elected and serve as provided by the By-Laws.

Section 4

The Executive Committee shall see that actions of the Board of Directions are carried out.  The Executive Committee shall have power to act for the Board of Directors when such Board is not in session.  Such actions taken by the Executive Committee shall be fully and completely reported to the Board of Directors at their next meeting.

Section 5

This Constitution may be amended only by a two-thirds favorable vote of the total membership present and voting at either a special or regular meeting of the Association.  Any amendment in order to be brought up for consideration before a meeting of the membership shall first originate in the Board of Directors and shall be recommended for adoption by a two thirds majority of the Board of Directors.  Any such amendment proposed by the Board of Directors shall be reduced to writing and mailed to each State Board Members at least 60 days prior to a membership meeting where such amendment is due to be considered for action.

Proposed Changes:         Any such amendment proposed by the Board of Directors or the Executive Committee shall be reduced to writing and delivered and/or communicated to each State Board Members at least 60 days prior to a membership meeting where such amendment is due to be considered for action.

By-Laws

ARTICLE I             Dues

Section 1

The annual membership dues for this Association shall be $35.00 per regular members, $20.00 per FSA employee, payable as states receive their membership dues, and organized states may keep $10.00 and $5.00 respectively for the operations.  Three year memberships shall be $90 and $50 respectively.  Other memberships are at state option with exec approval.

Proposed Changes:         The annual membership dues for this Association shall be set by the Board of Directors.

Section 2

The fiscal year shall be January 1 to December 31

Section 3

Any State that is in arrears in payment of its dues for a period of six months or more shall no longer be a member.  It may be reinstated upon payment of the dues for the current year.

Proposed Change:           Any State collecting dues that is in arrears in payment of its dues for a period of six months or more shall no longer be a member.  It may be reinstated upon payment of the dues for the current year.

ARTICLE II            Election of Officers and Directors

Section 1

Directors shall be the affiliated State President for a term of one year, taking office on January 1 and serving through December 31.

(a)    The President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Vice President of Membership, and Secretary-Treasurer shall be members Ex-Officio of the Board of Directors with full voting rights.

Section 2

The elected area members of the Executive Committee shall be elected by the Board of Directors from any member in good standing in a meeting of such Board to be held immediately upon adjournment of the annual meeting.  All vacancies occurring on the Executive Committee shall be filled by a majority of the remaining Executive Committee members and shall hold office until the next annual meeting of the membership.

Section 3

The President, Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Vice President of Membership and Secretary-Treasurer shall be elected by the Delegates present and voting at the annual membership meeting of the Association.  Nominations and seconds shall be made by any delegate in good standing from the floor. The President, Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Vice President of Membership and Secretary-Treasurer will take office following their election at the national convention of the year for which elected and shall serve until the next convention.

 

ARTICLE III           OFFICERS

Section 1

The President shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Association and shall preside at all meetings, both regular and special of the Association and at all meetings of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee.  He shall also perform all duties as may be necessary as Executive Office of the Association and as assigned by the Board of Directors or Executive Committee.

Section 2

The Vice President shall perform the duties of the President during his absence and at such times as the President may deem necessary and shall succeed to the Office of the President should it become vacant.

Section 3

The 2nd Vice President shall perform the duties of the President in the event both President and Vice President are absent and shall succeed to the Office of 1st Vice President should such become vacant.  A special duty of the 2nd Vice President shall be that of Public Relations Officer.

Section 4

The Vice President of Membership shall be responsible for the coordination of membership solicitation and recruitment at the national level.  This officer will assist in membership solicitation and recruitment at the individual state, district and county level, as time permits.

Section 5

The Secretary-Treasurer shall in effect serve as business manager of the Association.  They shall (1) conduct the official correspondence of the Association, (2) keep accurate records of the regular and special business meetings, (3) prepare and have custody of the minutes of all meetings, (4) preside at meetings in the absence of the President and both Vice Presidents, (5) collect dues from all Members States, (6) collect and distribute all monies subject to prior approval of the Executive Committee, (7) deposit all funds in a depository in the city of his residence or as otherwise designated by the Executive Committee, (8) be bonded by an accredited bonding firm, and perform such additional duties as may be assigned by the Board, Executive Committee or President.

Section 6

The President shall give an annual report to the Association.

Section 7

All disbursements of the Association shall be by check signed by the Treasurer.  Al disbursements shall have prior approval of the Executive Committee item by item.  The rate of reimbursement of expenses only of members of the Executive Committee and Officers incurred in the discharge of their official duties will be determined by the Board of Directors.  The rate of reimbursement of expenses of the Board of Directors incurred in the discharge of their official duties will be determined by the delegates of at the annual convention.

 

ARTICLE IV          MEETINGS

Section 1

There shall be at least one meeting of the membership of the Association during each calendar year, the time and place to be set by the Board of Directors, provided, however, that a meeting at which officers and directors will be elected is to be help during the last months of the year.  Each state is entitled to one delegate vote for each 100 members or major fraction thereof.  Any state affiliate with this Association is entitled to at least one delegate vote.

Proposed Change:           There shall be at least one meeting of the membership of the Association during each calendar year, the time and place to be set by the Board of Directors.  Each state is entitled to one delegate vote.

Section 2

Special meetings of the membership may be called by written request of a majority of the Board of Directors.  Written notices shall be given at least 10 days prior to such meeting to each delegate at his address as listed in the records of the Association.  The presence in person of not less than 10 percent of the delegates shall constitute a quorum at any regular or special membership meeting.

Section 3

Meetings of the Board of Directors shall be held at least annually.  A quorum shall consist of not less than one-half of the membership of the Board of Directors present.

Section 4

Meeting of the Executive Committee may be called by the President of by petition of a majority of the Executive Committee.  Notice of such meetings shall be given to each member at least ten days prior to the date of such meeting.  A majority of the membership shall constitute a quorum.

 

Article V              Committees

Section 1

Standing committees shall be appointed by the President, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors as follows:

(a)    Membership Committee                      (c) Nominating Committee

(b)   Resolutions Committee                        (d) Audit Committee

Other committees may be appointed as deemed necessary by the President with approval of the Board of Directors.  The President shall name one member of each committee as chairman.  The President shall serve as a member ex-officio of each committee

 

ARTICLE VI          Procedures

Section 1

Robert’s Rule of Order shall govern the proceedings of all general, regular and special meetings of the Association except as provided by these By-Laws.

 

ARTICLE VII         Building Membership

It shall be the responsibility of each officer, director and members of this Association to see that all eligible persons are fully informed as to the purpose, objectives, and need for the Association and to assist in building the membership to maximum strength at the earliest possible date.

 

ARTICLE VIII        Amendments

These By-Laws may be amended at any regular or special meeting of the membership by a majority vote.  Amendments must be initiated by the Board of Directors and must be mailed to the membership at least 10 days prior to said meeting.

Proposed Change:           These By-Laws may be amended at any regular or special meeting of the membership by a majority vote.  Amendments must be initiated by the Board of Directors and must be delivered and/or communicated to the membership at least 10 days prior to said meeting.

The National Association of Farmer Elected Committees is a non-profit organization composed of and led by farmers, nominated and elected by farmers, and serving all farmers in each of their county USDA Farm Service Agency offices.  To learn more about NAFEC or to join please go tohttp://fsacountycommittees.org
All information and materials carried in this email are believed to be reliable, RuralWire makes no representation, neither expressly nor impliedly, as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or reliability of the materials or any information contained in this email. Groups or Organizations issuing media releases, not RuralWire, are solely responsible for the facts and accuracy of all information submitted for transmission by RuralWire. By relying on any of the materials or information contained in this email, you assume all risk and responsibility arising out of its use, and release RuralWire from any liability for any loss or damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to any direct, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, punitive, or other damages arising out of the use of any materials contained in this email.

 

 

 

 News from

The National Association of Farmer Elected Committees

For Immediate Release                                                    Contact: Craig Turner: 806-269-0610

 

From the President’s DeskMarch 19, 2013I want to welcome all the new members of NAFEC and I’m honored you have joined with other committee members like myself to make NAFEC a stronger organization.  I look forward to working with all the county committees to help support the local control through elected members of our committees.  Your Officers and State Directors recently traveled to Washington DC for a joint NAFEC/ NASCOE Legislative Conference to reach out to the new 113th Congress, USDA and the Farm Service Agency on several important issues affecting county committees.NAFEC carried the message about the importance of passing a new 5 year Farm Bill.  Producers need to make informed decisions based on the programs available to them for their operation.  It makes planning extremely difficult, if not impossible, when Congress goes from one manufactured crisis to another without taking care of important business such as the Farm Bill.

In addition to meeting with Congressional Members and staff, Officers and Directors met with:

  • Undersecretary Michael Scuse;
  • Deputy Undersecretary Karis Gutter;
  • Farm Service Agency Administrator Juan Garcia;
  • Risk Management Agency Administrator Brandon Willis; and,
  • Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyard Agency Administrator Larry Mitchell.

Several issues were addressed with these USDA representatives including:

  • The appointment of voting SDA members to some COC’s;
  • Budget issues affecting COC’s;
  • Setting up an appeal process when a county committee disagrees with a state committee;
  • Office staffing — currently FSA can close offices if there are two or less employees.  That is unfair unless workload is considered because the office might need more employees but were unable to hire additional employees because of budget cuts; and,
  • Protecting and highlighting issues regarding county committee authority including attacks on COC authority by overreaching District Directors.

NAFEC continues to believe that members of our county committees should continue to be elected by the producers in our county and area offices.  NAFEC does support the initial appointment of the minority advisors to be voting members of our committees but feel very strongly that new at-large voting minority seats be established so that all members are elected and have the same accountability to those who have placed us on the committees.

NAFEC continues to urge that COC’s are allowed to meet when the committee has decisions to make and not be told, “You cannot meet because of budget”.  We are finding that every state has different rules when it comes to COC meetings and feel there should be uniformity in allowing committees to meet nationwide.  In one particular situation, NAFEC was contacted about an arbitrary time limit placed on all COC meeting within that state.  If the time limit was reached the COC had to contact the District Director to get approval to continue the meeting.  In addition to restricting the committee’s ability to conduct the necessary business of their producers, but also exhibits yet another example of the overreaching nature of the District Directors and State Office.  NAFEC contacted FSA in Washington DC and got the rule rescinded.  We applaud the National office’s action since these types of decisions such as that should be made by the local county committees.

NAFEC occasionally works with county committees that are in disagreement with decisions made by the State Committee.  In some cases, the county committees were proven to be right in their decision and the State is proven wrong.  Currently there is no appeal procedure in place for COC’s when a decision is overturned by the State Committee.  NAFEC believes an appeals procedure needs to be put in place for those rare times when it is needed and warranted.  During NAFEC’s discussion with USDA officials, we asked FSA to consider establishing an appeal procedure for COC’s to exercise at their discretion.

Many times NAFEC is asked by COC’s about their rights.  One of the best ways to protect your rights as a county committee is to ask for everything to be put in writing, then be properly documented and entered into the COC Minutes at your next meeting.  So, if the District Director State Office or anyone else tells you to take certain actions, TELL THEM the details MUST BE in writing so you have a written record.

In other news around Washington, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) have released their budget blueprints with the White House announcing their budget will be released in April.  What is apparent in both the budgets currently being discussed are a number of proposals with serious implications on programs and services many in rural communities have come to expect.  The major differences between the two Congressional budgets appear to be the classic battle between Democrats and Republicans – increase revenues through taxation vs. cost savings through entitlement reform.  Neither is completely right, nor completely wrong.  Two prime examples of these budgets target direct payments to farmers as laid out under the current Farm Bill and massive cuts/reforms in Medicare and Medicaid.

Both of these issues are extremely important to the continued recovery of the rural economy.  Many in Washington view balancing the budget and reinvigorating the economy through very narrow parameters, without fully exploring how these initiatives will impact real rural residents’ quality of life.

As Congress and the White House debate further budget cuts to public programs, such as Medicare – the health care insurance system for elderly and disabled individuals – patients in rural areas need to watch potential cuts to Medicare.  Currently, Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) consistently comes in under budget.   As we all like to say – “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Congress is looking at possible cuts in reimbursement rates for rural hospitals and doctors. Unfortunately for rural patients, cutting payments to physicians for administering medicines could mean that clinics in rural America are forced to close their doors.  Rural America cannot afford to have any more communities without any health care options.

As you can see, NAFEC has been working very hard for our members and look forward to continuing to be a strong voice for rural America.  In order to accomplish our goals, if you know anyone interested in joining NAFEC, please direct them to www.fsacountycommittees.org to join electronically and see the many benefits of NAFEC membership or simply mail a membership form to:

NAFEC

PO Box 10190

Kansas City, MO  64171

For those of you unable to attend the NAFEC/NASCOE Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, I have taken the liberty of attaching the information we distributed to our elected representatives and USDA officials.  On a related note about an issue in the NAFEC Statement of Policy Paper, NAFEC has been pushing for stronger oversight of the Federal Crop Insurance program and allowing FSA to work with RMA to collect crop yield and production data and have input into any loss adjustment to root out any possible fraud and abuse.  To highlight the potential savings NAFEC could save the American Taxpayer, look no further than this article about a huge, $100 Million scheme recently uncovered in eastern North Carolina.

As always, my door is always open to discuss any issues which may arise from time-to-time.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at (806) 269-0610.

Sincerely,

Craig Turner

National President

 

National Association of Farmer Elected Committees

Mission Statement

“The primary purpose of the National Association of Farmer Elected Committees (NAFEC) is, and will always be, to promote and improve the farmer elected committee system for the local administration of farm programs.  The coordinated effort will give us strength, and much more influence in Congress for the kind of farm program America’s farmer, ranchers and rural communities need in order to survive.”

NAFEC was organized in 1965 and our mission has not changed from then to the present.  We are dedicated to retaining, improving and strengthening the county committee system of program delivery.  With the long-running and continued onslaught of different factions in Washington, D.C. seeking to eliminate the County Committees (COC), our mission has become more difficult, but we will prevail.

County Committees provide the spark and imagination as well as the local judgment needed in adopting and administering FSA programs.  COCs have earned the confidence of their neighbors by doing an educated, capable, vigorous and dedicated job.  There have been numerous attempts to strip the COCs of their statutory authority, on the issues of supervision, selection of the County Executive Directors (CED) and virtually every aspect of the jurisdiction.  NAFEC has always been a tireless advocate to protect COC authority, written by Congress in legislation and in the Code of Federal Regulations.

NAFEC has worked with the United States Congress and the administration to provide fairness for county committees and the employees in the FSA offices.  NAFEC has worked diligently for years to keep the county offices open.  If we fail at this endeavor, the country’s farmers and the integrity of the agency and its programs will be the big losers.  Many seasoned, professional FSA employees will not be allowed to stay with the agency and county committees will cease to exist.  Although NAFEC has not always been successful in every attempt they have undertaken, we have won the friendship of many within the Congress and the executive branch through their continued efforts to promote the interests of the American farmers and ranchers.  Our association has played a role in shaping several farm bills and expects to do the same in the future.

 

National Association of Farmer Elected Committee

STATEMENT OF POLCY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Appointment of County Committee SDA Members

NAFEC has endorsed the initial appointment of the minority advisors to voting members of the county committees.  We see this as taking an important step forward.  However, NAFEC urges that beginning in 2013, at-large voting seats be established for the underrepresented groups and in 2014, nominations and elections be held so that all members of the county committees be elected by a majority of the eligible voters.  NAFEC is very concerned about the proposed appointment process which would inject politics into the COC system and we believe it would be a huge problem for the Secretary of Agriculture to identify and appoint numerous qualified committee members each year.  NAFEC feels very strongly about maintaining the local accountability the current elected system affords and encourages USDA to continue this process.

Budgetary Issues and Recommendations

NAFEC fully understand the austerity measures all Agencies and Departments throughout the government are facing.  The county committees have been forced to rein in spending to a point in which services and programs are beginning to be impacted, either through inadequate staffing in the local offices or unreasonable limits placed on committees meetings to discuss important program business.  The requirements and duties instilled in county committees are a crucial component in producers receiving program benefits in timely manner.

NAFEC fully supports USDA to review ways all agencies can work together to serve producers in a timely and efficient manner.  According to a recent study, if FSA compiled all crop acreage reports and collect production yield data, which would save the Department approximately $200 Million annually by removed duplicative reporting requirements for producers.

Additionally, FSA should review allowing local offices to purchase goods and services locally and leasing authority in order to reduce overhead and shipping expenses on items which in many cases are sent automatically, regardless of need.

It seems that during these tight budgets, too many resources are being spent on middle-management at the cost of the county offices delivering critical programs to producers.  For many years, FSA has systematically consolidated county offices and reduced employee numbers.  NAFEC encourages any additional budget cuts shall apply across the board to all levels of FSA.

County Committee Appeals

NAFEC has identified an inequity whereby there is no appeal process in place for County Committees for their protection.  NAFEC has worked with several COC’s that have made decisions that have been overturned at the State Office.  That is provided in the regulation that State Committees have the final say but there is no appeal procedure if a COC does not agree with the action of the State Committee.  We have found several instances where on appeal by the producers, the COC’s were right and the STC was wrong in their decision.  This has resulted in up to 2 years delays in receiving benefits due to producers.

NAFEC requests that FSA consider a fair process where if a COC disagrees with a State Committee, they can appeal that decision to Washington for a final opinion.

County Committee Authority

One of NAFEC’s top priorities has been to protect the authorities given to County Committees both in permanent law and published regulations.  County Committees hire and supervise the County Executive Director who then supervises the County Office Employees.  NAFEC has dealt with numerous cases of the District Directors trying to interject themselves as the supervisors of the COC and the CED.  NAFEC asks that all the SED’s make sure that DD’s fully understand the chain of command and that COC’s are an important and vital part of the system.

NAFEC Initiative Now Underway!

By Kevin Dale, NAFEC Committee Chair

Back in November the NASCOE executive Committee formally launched a new national committee.  This new committee is charged with assisting the National Association of Farmer Elected Committees (NAFEC) and includes Greg Hudson from the NEA, Cliff Fussell from the SEA, Randy Tillman from the MWA, Darrin Slack from the SWA, Annettee Schneck from the NWA, and myself, Kevin Dale from Oklahoma the chairperson of this new committee.  The establishment of this new committee means NASCOE has made a commitment to support NAFEC with communications, infrastructure and membership.

Over the past couple of months of the committee’s existence, a lot of questions have been asked regarding NAFEC, the County Committee system, and why NASCOE is getting more involved with NAFEC.  Some have suggested the county committee system may be antiquated, or past their useful life.  If that is in fact the case, the need to support NAFEC would essentially be a waste of time, effort and dollars.   So what is the truth in this matter and why has NASCOE launched this new initiative.  Please read on for a few minutes as we explore that question.

Is the County Committee system antiquated or past it useful lifespan?  Some would argue that we now live in a time where the need for local committee’s has past.  To really answer that question we all need to go back and look at why the County Committee system was formed in the first place.  To do that, we need to go back to the very beginning of Agriculture programs in America, the early 1930’s.  At that time Franklin Roosevelt was President and the entire nation was in the mists of the worst depression in American history.  Farmers and ranchers were bankrupt and many of citizen’s hungry.    The President and Congress knew an abundant food supply was essential if the United States were to prosper.

However, there were many critics that were opposed to the government getting involved in production agriculture.  There was a great concern that the results would look more socialistic than democratic.  To reduce the fears of farmers and ranchers and the general citizenship, the new Agriculture Adjustment Act included a system whereby the farmers themselves would administer the Act rather than the federal government.  County Control Associations (the forerunner to our current COC’s) were formed throughout the nation which allowed farmers to implement the Adjustment programs themselves. According to then Secretary Agriculture Henry A. Wallace, “Thoroughly democratic in form and spirit, the associations are effective instruments in economic self government.”

So what does all this history have to do with where we are today?  It is at the very root of the Farm Service Agency.  The reason the County Committees were formed was to ensure locally elected input in Federal farm programs.  In other words, our system is the best model for government with checks and balances right at the lowest grassroots level.  Have any of your children ever gone to a school without a school board or have any of you ever sold your crops at a co-op without a co-op board? How about living in a city with a city manager, but no city council, or visiting a bank without a bank board?  Why do all of these private entities have local boards or committees?  Because they recognize local boards are the best way to ensure oversight, to provide accountability, and to be the most responsive to the communities in which these groups exist.

Our county committee system is not antiquated; on the contrary it is the most responsive system within the USDA and quite possibly within all of government.  Our system isn’t the past; on the contrary it is the future!   As such NASCOE recognizes the importance of a strong COC system.  Since NAFEC is the primary supporter of the COC system, the best way to support the COC system in thru the support of NAFEC.

Therefore, our new committee has embarked on a mission to assist NAFEC in the areas previously mentioned.  NAFEC directors are being appointed in every state. The distribution of NAFEC information is on the rise and membership is being highly encouraged.  For only $1 per pay period (using Dues withholdings) any FSA employee can be an associate member of NAFEC.  On the following page is a membership form to make it easy to join.   Just print out an FSA-444 and submit to your STO.  Submit this membership form according to the instructions on it.  Please provide your COC’s an opportunity to join as well.  They can do so for only $3 per meeting (using payroll withholdings).  All of the STO’s have been informed about how to load these FSA-444’s for both you and your COC members.   If any of you have any questions about how to join please call me or any one of our area NAFEC committee members.

1.  Henry A. Wallace – 1935 – Yearbook in Agriculture, page 8.

 

NAFEC/NASCOE Joint Legislative Conference

By Kevin Dale, NASCOE NAFEC Committee Chair

NASCOE and NAFEC joined together the last week of February in our Nations capitol for a targeted legislative conference.  There were a very good number of NAFEC members attending including:

  • Craig Turner, Texas – NAFEC President
  • Cathie Kreager, Ohio – NAFEC Sec/Treasurer
  • Dennis Kuhlengel, Illinois – MW Area Director
  • Cole Sims, Louisiana – At Large Director
  • Tommy Shepard, Oklahoma –SW Area Director
  • Chris Parker, Alabama State Director
  • David Polifka, Kansas State Director
  • Bob Cheeseman, Illinois State Director
  • Aaron Friez, North Dakota State Director
  • Robert Lynn, Georgia State Director
  • Charlie Gully, Texas State Director

Tuesday morning the NAFEC delegation met with their Washington D.C. Legislative consultants David and Billy Senter to discuss a host of issues impacting FSA offices.  Many issues were discussed during the meetings including but not limited to:

 

1.    Legislative Issues

a.    FSA Committee involvement in oversight of private insurance acreage & production.

b.    CO supervision of GS employees

c.    COC Leasing of Local Space

d.    FSA Administration of all Conservation

2.    USDA/FSA Issues

a.    16-AO, DD delegated authority (NAFEC believes Amendment 6 oversteps the intent of law)

b.    Required COC concurrence in Shared Management Operations

c.    Sem-21 – Possibility of COC approval of Time & Attendance

d.    Performance Evaluations – Inconsistency between states

e.    Grass Reporting deadlines – too early for non PRF and/or NAP grass crops.

3.    Current Issues initiated by NAFEC

a.    SDA Elected rather than appointed COC Members

b.    Increasing the role of COC in FSA programs

c.    COC Appeals

 

Tuesday afternoon NAFEC met with NASCOE for a legislative training session.  This session included review of the NASCOE position papers to be presented on the hill.

On Wednesday morning NAFEC joined NASCOE for a Capitol Hill briefing.  Later that afternoon NAFEC split up, with the Executive Committee having meetings with FSA and other USDA officials, while the NAFEC state directors met with key Congressional members.

In closing, I believe NAFEC has a very strong executive committee who are passionate about the County Committee system of government.  With their increased level of participation and involvement NAFEC is in a position to make a positive difference for Agriculture and FSA.

The National Association of Farmer Elected Committees is a non-profit organization composed of and led by farmers, nominated and elected by farmers, and serving all farmers in each of their county USDA Farm Service Agency offices.  To learn more about NAFEC or to join please go to http://fsacountycommittees.org
All information and materials carried in this email are believed to be reliable, RuralWire makes no representation, neither expressly nor impliedly, as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or reliability of the materials or any information contained in this email. Groups or Organizations issuing media releases, not RuralWire, are solely responsible for the facts and accuracy of all information submitted for transmission by RuralWire. By relying on any of the materials or information contained in this email, you assume all risk and responsibility arising out of its use, and release RuralWire from any liability for any loss or damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to any direct, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, punitive, or other damages arising out of the use of any materials contained in this email.