Usually by January 30th of each year, members would be busy making plans for travel to zone meetings. To say the least, 2019 has been different, unique, crazy, unpredictable. As I have told many, many members, we are traveling in uncharted waters.
During the time we were off for the shutdown, the NACS-FSA Board has been continually communicating with each other. We have thrown around several ideas and discussed each of them. We have asked members for their input.
It is with an extremely heavy heart that we need to announce that we will be cancelling the Zone A meeting planned for Las Cruces, NM and the Zone B meeting planned for Wichita, KS. With the timing and workload overflow from the just ended furlough and the uncertainty of another furlough possibly looming, along with the input from our members, it was decided that this one time action is necessary. Members will be receiving refunds of the registration funds they may have submitted for the meetings.
With every cloud comes a silver lining, right? There is good news that comes with this sad turn of events. First, we are planning on this being a one time only cancellation of these very important meetings. Second, each of the host states was able to have positive discussions with the host hotels and will bear no financial hardship because of the cancellation. Third, each of the host states - New Mexico and Kansas - are very willing and planning to host the zone meeting in 2020! This is so awesome! As always, we want members to address concerns to their Zone Representatives and to submit resolutions through the NACS-FSA website.
We want to encourage members to attend the combined Zone C and D meeting in Chattanooga, TN on March 7-9, 2019. At this time, we fully plan to have this meeting. So send in your registrations soon. Stay tuned and any updates will be posted to the NACS-FSA website.
Additionally, please mark your calendar now and plan to attend our national convention in New Orleans, LA on June 22-27, 2019. Since we won't see many faces at zone meetings, we definitely want to see you at the convention. Very soon we plan to post information about the convention on the website. Be sure to check it often!
Please know that the entire NACS-FSA Board did everything within its power to have the Zone A and B meetings. Doing this one time cancellation just made the most sense. If you have any questions, please contact any of us.
Based upon news reports, it appears that the President and Congress have reached an agreement to pass legislation that will re-open the government and keep agencies funded through February 15. While this is not a full appropriations measure, the Continuing Resolution is certainly good news for furloughed Federal employees.
In the Rose Garden address, the President said that Federal employees who have been without pay will be paid "quickly or very soon". This is also great news. Mr. Trump praised employees for their dedication. Please know that NACS-FSA will continue to watch this situation.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Have a great weekend.
The Presidents and Vice Presidents of the employee organizations (NACS-FSA, NADD, NASE, NAOFEC, and NASCOE) were on a conference call with the Administrator and his staff from the National Office late this afternoon (January 22, 2019). We were updated on the call back of FSA employees to provide program services to our customers.
We were told that FSA employees were changed from a "non-excepted" status to "excepted on call" status under the guidance of OMB to provide available program funding to our customer. This work was determined to be necessary to avoid an impact to the producers and maintain the integrity of the program while protecting government assets and property. For those employees who have chosen to seek unemployment compensation during this period, the National Office is having more calls tomorrow to see how this call back may or may not affect this benefit.
The news release has been issued by the Secretary's Office to notify producers that our offices will be open to provide greater, yet still limited, services. We were told that support services would be available to us through the Business Center, National Finance Office, and KCMO. However, the services of OCIO/CTS were a bit uncertain.
I specifically commented that FSA employees are dedicated to providing service to our customer but this call back to work without pay was creating an undue hardship on many of our employees in the form of commuting costs, day care, and routine work related costs. I truly believe that Mr. Fordyce recognizes the strain this is creating and the sacrifice employees are making and he is directing state offices to provide guidance to local managers to be as flexible as possible during this period. He stated that, while employees are needed at work to provide coverage in the offices, no employees can be charged to take leave during this furlough period if they have appointments or schedule conflicts that will cause them to be away from the office.
As I have said before, I fully recognize and appreciate your hard work and dedication. LeAnn and I voiced our concerns and will always be your advocate. This is not great for anyone and know that we are in your corner. Please contact us if you have any questions.
Let me begin by giving each of you a HUGE thank you!!!! Your willingness to come in for the past couple of days and into next week is such a testament to your commitment to rural America. You should all be very proud of yourselves and your staff. I know that I am very proud to be a part of this selfless group of employees.
OK - so what do we know? At this point, not much more than you can read in the paper or see on TV or the internet. We are entering week 5 of shutdown and the best news that we have is that legislation has been signed that will provide us with back pay when we do return to work. If there is other news coming from USDA sources, we have not been included in the correspondence.
Please be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page. Our media group is keeping it as updated as possible with the latest reliable information when we know it. While we want to provide as much as we can, we are going to be absolutely sure it is reliable, certain, and truthful before we post it. .
Be assured also that our Legislative Committee has their ear to the ground on this and will post information as soon as they know it or can confirm it.
Thanks again for all that you do. As always, please reach out to me with any thoughts or questions.
Patience. Patience. Patience.
As we enter into the start of the third week of the government shutdown, we have all had patience in one form or another. Let us hope that the Democratic process plays out quickly so we can get back to the business of serving America's farmers and ranchers.
Business Item #1
Get registered to attend a zone meeting. If the meeting in your area does not fit your schedule, consider a new adventure and attend elsewhere. I will be at all three meetings and look forward to see lots of faces - new and old.
Business Item #2
If your state is not current on your dues, please submit them to the Treasurer. Each state president or their representative is eligible for some reimbursement to attend the zone meeting but your state must be current on dues to receive it.
Business Item #3
Submit resolutions. Simple. Let's work to make our programs better.
As always, please reach out to me with any thoughts or questions. It continues to be my honor to serve you.
We are beginning to gear up for the full swing of loan season which we know will probably be busier and more challenging than last year. Add the holidays and the end of year use or lose annual leave time off and we know everyone will be going full gear.
After some much needed time away from the office, I am back and ready to go. Fall is a great time of year - harvest, college football, cooler weather. Plus, isn't just crazy how many things can suddenly become "pumpkin spice" scented???
Thank you to so many of the states that have submitted their quarterly dues. If you still need to send them, get it off in the mail to our NACS Treasurer, Ray Bartholomew. His address is:
4107 South Obee Road
Hutchinson, KS 67505
Many, many new FLOTs are coming into our offices to begin their careers with FSA. They can be great ambassadors to our programs. You can be a great ambassador for NACS-FSA. Get them involved. If you want, any one of our Board members would be happy to talk to them about joining.
Lots of planning is going on for the upcoming zone meetings. Watch the website for the registration information. Zone A already has their plans there. You can see it at the link below.
NACS recently had the chance to submit names for members to serve on National Office working groups. These are great opportunities to network and be a part of the bigger picture. If this is something you are interested in helping out with, please contact me. I would love to have a list of names to go to when we are called up.
It is truly my privilege to be a member of this organization. I am here to serve you. Get in touch with me at any time.
*The FSA fiscal year is quickly drawing to a close. Offices are busy completing farm visits, bank visits, and classifications. Even though we are all busier than we have ever been, please know that your hard work does not go unnoticed. Your customers, your lenders, your peers, and the Agency do appreciate your hard work. Reward yourself with some time off.
*Many of the newly hired FLOTs and PTs are now coming onboard or will be very soon. Remember to tell them your own "elevator story" about how and why you started working for FSA and shares your success stories with them. Also remember to tell them the benefits of joining NACS.
*It is also dues time! If your state has not sent in their quarterly dues, please get them in the mail. Like all of our customers, NACS has a cash flow too and we want to be able to continue to thrive and spread the great works of this organization. Your state treasurer should send the dues to Ray Bartholomew, NACS Treasurer, at the following address:
4107 South Obee Road
Hutchinson, KS 67505
*One last thought - remember to make sure you and fellow members in your state have current information - like email addresses - in the NACS system. Go to the website and update your information. Check out all of the other information while you are there.
Watch the roads as fall harvest gets under way - be safe. Reach out to me at any time!
It hardly seems like it has been nearly two months since convention and being elected president. The association, as a whole, has been busy.
Here are our highlights thus far.
~I attended and spoke at the NASCOE convention on August 2 in Sioux Falls, SD. They had a full slate of speakers from the National Office. NASE and NADD had representatives there as well. Thanks to Dennis Ray and the NASCOE organization for the invitation. After the convention, I was invited to the SDACS meeting and enjoyed spending time with those members.
~NACS-FSA members have provided comments and input on the following topics to the National Office. Thank you to everyone who provided their thoughts to the Board.
-2-FLP and 3-FLP inconsistencies
-Lender review requirements in 2-FLP
-Good faith determinations
-FSA-2040 and FSA-2045
-Proposed revisions to the FSA-2580 checklist
~The NACS-FSA committee positions have been filled! I continue to be humbled by and thankful for our members. Everyone asked was willing to help out. I received the following comments when I asked people to serve on a committee.
-"Being on a committee is like winning the lottery to me!
-"Thanks for your confidence in me."
-"I would be glad to serve on the committee. Thanks for the opportunity."
-"It would be my honor and pleasure!"
~Very soon Kim will be getting out her first newletter! I have seen a sneak peak and am excited to see everything she has included. Please be looking for it.
~At the national convention, NASE made a decision to split their annual convention attendance by going with NACS-FSA one year and NASCOE the following year. They plan to be with NACS-FSA in 2019 and then switch for 2020. We are sure their board will keep everyone informed on how this will all work itself out for their organization.
Reach out to me at any time! I am glad to help and lend an ear!
The 2018 NACS-FSA, NASE, and NADD national convention was held on June 24th - 28th in San Antonio, Texas. It was a great meeting. We had a large contingency of speakers from the National Office and the Finance Office. It was an honor to have Under Secretary, Bill Northey, and FSA Administrator, Richard Fordyce, join us and update us on the status of the Department and Agency.
Elections were held and the following people will make up the NACS-FSA Board for the 2018-2019 year.
President - Denise Lickteig, NE
Vice President - LeAnn Gibbs, NM
Secretary - Kimberly Eilerman, IL
Treasurer - Ray Bartholomew, KS
Past President - Theresa Windham, GA
Zone A Representative - Jessica Smith, NM
Zone B Representative - Kay McCoy, KS
Zone C Representative - Nathan Adams, IN
Zone D Representative - Matthew Christian, TN
We, as a Board, pledge to do our very best to keep you updated on the events and happenings within NACS-FSA and the Agency. If we can ever be of service, please never hesitate to get in touch with any of us.
Here are a few things that I would like each member to know.
~Please give consideration to serving on a committee for the association. It really does not take a large amount of your time. It will reward you well more than you can ever imagine. If you have an interest, please complete a committee survey on the website or call any of the Board members to discuss it. We hope to make committee assignments soon and we can use you!
~Spread the word about the good things that NACS-FSA is doing. One example is the work that the association did to get the additional funds to hire the new group of FLOTs currently being advertised. By telling our story and making sure Congress knows the good work we do in Farm Loan Programs, we were able to secure more loan approval official positions. Don't be shy about telling those new FLOTs that come on board about NACS-FSA and how instrumental the association was.
~NACS-FSA has many, many talented members. We want to use those talents. Maybe you have a knack for writing or other skills. Let me know if you have any desire to help and we will find a spot for you. As an example, Tiffany Grody, a member from Ohio, has designed a pretty cool NACS-FSA t-shirt. She is more than happy to talk to people about making them for you to use as a promotional item for the association in your state or zone. Get in touch with Tiffany (firstname.lastname@example.org) to talk to her if this is something you are interested in.
~Keep your eyes on the website. We plan to enlist the help of a couple of members to assist with the website. Good things will be coming!
I am truly honored to serve this organization. Reach out to me at any time!
Denise is a Farm Loan Manager from Nebraska. She was elected NACS President at the June 2018 Convention.